Star Wars has seen a major resurgence in its lore books over the past few years. With the success of Daniel Wallace’s books on the Sith, Empire, Bounty Hunter’s Guild and Jedi, it was only natural that we would see something tying into the new generation. With the new forces of the First Order and Resistance introduced and so many new worlds to explore, Rey’s Survival Guide had a ready-made audience awaiting new stories. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t the book fans were hoping for, and it’s baffling an author as talented as Jason Fry didn’t produce something truly stellar here.
Written as an in-universe work, the Survival Guide has been pieced together by Rey (AKA the Luke Skywalker successor of the new trilogy) as she struggled to make a living on Jakku. It records her past experiences on a world littered with the hardware of long dead armies, offering insight into both. The problem is that, unlike its predecessors, the book only starts to touch on these elements rather than truly delving into them.
We sadly learn very little about Rey herself save for one or two charming bits about her childhood, and despite its unique environment Jakku itself seems unremarkable. We learn little of the vehicles (save for which bits make profitable sales) or inner workings of any society, and that’s largely thanks to Rey herself. It tries to keep things toned down, to focus upon how she understandably either doesn’t know or has the time to fully cover these, but that just makes for an extremely shallow experience. It leaves the book relying upon the reader’s investment in Rey, but there’s little personality or real flourish to her writing style. This could have easily been overcome by having her inherit the guide from prior owners, but the only push for more flavour text comes in the form of a few fliers. These moments are where the book really shines as it gives something for the writing to truly work with, but they’re few and far between.
Perhaps the biggest casualty here is the artwork, as the book tries to emulate the sketches of an everyday person. Understandable, but it means it pales in comparison to the glorious illustrations of The Jedi Path and others, and it’s often visually dull at best.
While Rey’s Survival Guide isn’t bad, it’s bland and fairly unremarkable, which is a problem when it’s following several smash hits like Book of Sith. If you truly want to see more of The Force Awakens it’s not a bad option, but you would do better to look into the author’s vastly better works like The Essential Guide to Warfare.
STAR WARS: REY’S SURVIVAL GUIDE / WRITER: JASON FRY / PUBLISHER: STUDIO FUN INTERNATIONAL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW