Essays & Articles

Kirkus Review

Gidwitz turns to second-person narration in his retelling of The Empire Strikes Back.


In an author’s note, this reteller of fairy tales explains that a certain type of protagonist—Luke, for instance—has a fairly empty characterization, enabling readers to “inhabit” the hero. This sets up the novel’s proper introduction, in which the narrator directly addresses readers who wish to become Jedis, explaining that simply telling Luke’s story isn’t enough and that they “need, for the duration of this story, to become Luke.” Substituting “you” for Luke, Gidwitz proceeds with his story. After fleeing a discovered rebel base, Luke follows a vision of Obi-Wan Kenobi to the swamp planet Dagobah, where the Jedi Master Yoda lives. There, Gidwitz takes advantage of the novel’s format to allow readers to share Luke’s frustration with Yoda’s emphasis on patience. Meanwhile, in conventionally narrated chapters, Leia, Han, and the gang engage in daring exploits to evade Darth Vader only to be betrayed by Han’s old friend, Lando. Vader uses them to set a trap for Luke, who, still so early in his training, is not ready to face the full force of the dark side, resulting in a major blow to the heroes. In between chapters, the narrator instructs readers in various Jedi training meditation exercises; sometimes they detract from the story’s rhythm, but generally they’re decent fun.


An enthusiastic, mostly successful experiment to make old new again. (Science fantasy. 8-12)

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