Attack of the Clones
by R.A. Salvatore
Published by Del Ray
Scott's Rating: 4 out of 4
This book review discusses spoilers from the movie and the novelization. Be warned!
As you're well aware, this is the novelization of the film Attack of the Clones, plus a bit extra.
This book contains scenes that take place outside of the film. It begins with Anakin having a bad dream about his mother while returning from his mission on Ansion (as seen in The Approaching Storm). It also gives us a look at Shmi and her life on Tatooine with Cliegg, Owen, and Beru. Shmi has a surprisingly strong relationship with her stepson Owen. She is shown being kidnapped by the Tusken Raiders and we get a view of the subsequent failed rescue mission by the local moisture farmers (and the loss of Cliegg's leg). Padme is also shown spending time with her family on Naboo and preparing for her trip to Coruscant. Keep in mind all this happens in the book before we even get to the events of the film. Later on we see several extra scenes between Jango Fett and Boba.
Besides the extra scenes, there are some that were ultimately cut from the theatrical version of the story. They include a conversation between Anakin and Padme's father, Padme being teased by her sister, and a couple more. We'll know for sure what else was cut when the movie hits is a few weeks.
The novelizations always have an advantage over the films because they allow more characterization and backstory. This one is no different. We get a lot more insight into the thoughts and feelings of both Anakin and Padme. It's much easier to understand why she'd fall for Anakin so quickly in the novel. Salvatore makes it clear that she's devoted all of her life to public service and never pursued her own interests. This starts to change a little as Attack of the Clones begins. After watching her sister happily play with her own family, it's easy to see why she'd look at Anakin in a different light when the romantic spark ignites. We also get a greater sense of Anakin being torn between his duty as a Jedi and his love for Padme.
Other characters get a deeper treatment, too. Early scenes in the book show the deep love between Shmi, Cliegg, Owen, and Beru. They are a loving family and it makes it all the more heart wrenching when she is lost. The book makes it more clear that Cliegg and Owen did everything in their power to save her, too. Meanwhile, Jango Fett and Boba are shown doing a lot more father / son bonding. It makes the death of Jango a little more meaningful than being merely a cool move by Mace Windu in the arena.
If you want the FULL story of Attack of the Clones, you have to have this book.
As much as I enjoyed the novelization, there still were a few problems I had with it. First of all, I think Shmi's kidnapping could have been handled better. It is made clear that the Tusken Raiders are a very real and dangerous threat near the Lars Homestead. Yet, after a night of listening to Banthas call around their house, Shmi goes out the next morning to pick mushrooms off of vaporators. That doesn't seem like something she would do. It's like jumping in the water after seeing a shark fin or deciding to split up from a group of friends in the woods when there's an axe murderer wandering around. It doesn't make sense. I think it could have been tweaked a little.
My other problem was that I never understood why Count Dooku joined the Sith. How does he go immediately from leaving the Jedi to joining Darth Sidious? They make it clear that this happens immediately after Episode I, so Dooku switched sides very quickly. This is attributed to his disillusionment with the Republic political system and restless spirit. Shouldn't there be more to it than that? I mean, he's going totally against his whole upbringing. I was hoping the novelization would reveal more, but it didn't. The book also never explains how the Republic got transport and weapons for a Clone Trooper army which they previously didn't know existed. Where did the Gunships and cruisers come from?
Finally, some of the dialogue between Padme and Anakin is really bad. Some of this is attributable to Lucas and Hales, some of it to Salvatore. From the talk of Padme's outfit which was "barely concealing her cleavage" to Anakin's voice which "was husky, intense", it was a little sappy. Here's one of Anakin's lines: "The thought of not being with you makes my stomach turn over, my mouth go dry. I feel dizzy! I can't breathe!" Maybe he just drank the water on Naboo. :) Maybe these lines will seem different after seeing the film. After all, beyond The Empire Strikes Back, the Star Wars movies haven't been known for their romantic dialogue.
I read this book and there were only a couple of surprises. I rather thoroughly spoiled myself for Episode II!