45 ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ plot details explained by the novelization

Many films these days – especially action tent poles – go through so many scripts and scriptwriters that the final product barely resembles the original idea. This isn”t QUITE the case for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” but the novelization written by New York Times bestselling author Alan Dean Foster deviates from the movie in ways big and small.

Foster had access to the script and this novel is part of the official Star Wars canon, but on a set like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” changes were being made throughout production. This of course led to some interesting bits being left on the cutting room floor.

These definitely aren”t every change, but they are the ones that piqued my interest.


First Order

Image Credit: Lucasfilm

#1: Hux”s Star Destroyer is called the FINALIZER and is a Resurgent-class ship. It was built in ‘distant orbital factories of the First Order.” There is a lot of “neutral territory” that neither the First Order or the New Republic control.

#2: The ‘psytechs” are prominently mentioned over and over. From questioning everyone Finn every came in contact with to reprogramming stormtrooper mentality to creating personality profiles, the First Order relies heavily on the psychological control. While never flat out stated, it is implied Psytech is Captain Phasma”s division.

#3: First Order thinks they”re helping the little guy by overthrowing the New Republic. General Hux”s speech is longer and goes into detail about what the First Order thinks its goals are.

Today is the end! The end of a government incapacitated by corruption! The end of an illegitimate regime that acquiesces to disorder! At this very moment, in a system far from here, the New Republic lives and wheezes, staggering onward, depraved and ineffectual and unable in any way to support the citizenry it claims to serve. Meanwhile a host of systems are left to wither and die – without aid, without care, without hope. Drowning in tis own decadence, the New Republic ignores them, unaware that these are its final moments.

#4: Starkiller Base did not originally drain the sun, it was powered by dark matter. One of the few head scratchers in “The Force Awakens” was how the Starkiller base actually worked. Was it draining one sun after another and then moving on? How did it shoot a beam across the galaxy in real time? Why did it turn INTO a sun at the end (other than the visual metaphor of the light triumphing over the dark?) Turns out, it was never supposed to be powered by the sun. Situated in one place, messing with science they didn”t understand, the First Order was harvesting dark matter to power their weapon. As the matter congealed to be sucked into the core, the light was supposed to dim. Then, using more science they barely understood, they beamed the concentrated dark matter THROUGH the galaxy instead of across it. Basically they were ripping holes in time/space. Oh! And the target didn”t explode originally. It turned into a tiny sun. 

*Lucasfilm is trying to marry both versions of Starkiller Base to fit into the lore.

#5: Snoke might have wanted to kill Rey, not train her. When Ren admits his failure to probe Rey”s mind, Snoke senses his apprentice has compassion for this girl. Hoping to teach Ren a lesson and remind him of the power of the Dark Side, Snoke demands Kylo Ren bring the girl to him. It definitely sounds like he planned to make an example of her, not train her.

#6: Captain Phasma had a slightly larger role. After Finn, Han, and Chewie get a hold of Phasma, their scenes are a bit more fleshed out. Phasma tries to delay shutting down the shields and gets a few fun lines.

Poe Dameron

Image Credit: Lucasfilm

#7: He ‘flirted” with a stormtrooper. Not really but if you”re holding out hope for Poe/Finn, it”s something. When the stormtroopers first search Poe for the map on Jakku, he winks at one of them and compliments the trooper's technique.

#8: There was a whole scene on Jakku that explained how Poe got off-planet. And it”s a shame it was cut as it focuses on showing off Poe”s skills as a pilot, even when flying a piece of junk land skiff. Poe is rescued by a Jakku denizen named Naka Iit – of an alien species called the Blarina. The species customs include helping the mad to accrue good karma, so Naka assists the clearly insane human spouting off about fighting against the First Order.

#9: They cut an awkward meet-cute with Rey. At the end of the film when the map to Luke Skywalker is finally complete and everyone is momentarily jubilant, Poe and Rey found themselves hugging. They both got all bashful and awkward and set up an unnecessary love triangle. 


Image Credit: Lucasfilm

#10: He let one of Jakku natives go. During the battle in the opening sequence, but before the First Order slaughtered the villagers, Finn had one woman cornered and much to her surprise…he let her live. Not that it mattered in the end I guess.

#11: He threw up after the battle. Instead of just breathing hard and sweating, Finn tossed his lunch in the aftermath of the slaughter.

#12: Finn has agoraphobia. After an entire life spent on space stations and inside bases, the wide open space of Jakku makes him nervous.

#13: He was shocked that Rey thought Luke Skywalker is a myth. Apparently she is in the minority. Finn reflects he knew Jakku was a backwater speck of nothing but Rey's ignorance about the Force and the Jedi take him aback.

#14: Originally Finn was the one who pulled the grate into place. When the trio has to hide from Han Solo in the Falcon, it was Finn that slid the grate back over their heads instead of keeping BB-8 company while Rey did it.

#15: Maz changes her mind about what she sees in Finn”s eyes. After the battle over Maz”s cantina, she tells Finn now in his face she sees the eyes of a warrior.

#16: Originally Finn took a lightsaber to the chest, not the back. When Kylo Ren discovered Finn actually had some weapons training and wouldn”t go down without a fight, the original script had him slicing the ex-stormtrooper across the chest.

Skywalker/Solo Family

Image Credit: Lucasfilm

#17: Don”t call Leia “Princess” to her face. She hates it. It”s brought up in the book multiple times, thought no one ever really elaborates.

#18: Leia had an assistant – Korr Sella – she sent to the Republic before the was destroyed. That black actress (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) staring in horror at the oncoming power of the Starkiller weapon? That was her.

#19: The Resistance had no idea Starkiller Base existed. This is extrapolated on quite a bit. Snoke”s decision to destroy the New Republic is about flushing out the Resistance. Utter annihilation of the enemy is a mere side effect. Snoke knew using the weapon would give away the base's location. The Resistance would then send a reconnaissance team to scout the place and the First Order could follow the scouts back to the Resistance HQ and destroy them once and for all. While this is what happens in the movie, the motivations are a bit murkier.

#20: Han and Leia are married. They are referred to as husband and wife. That is all.

#21: Kylo Ren knows who Rey is. After failing to call Anakin Skywalker”s lightsaber to his hand, Ren turns to Rey – who is now holding the blue lightsaber – and he declares, “It IS you,” and then the fight begins. 

#22: He also cracked open something in Rey”s mind. One of the advantages of a book is internal narration. When Ren attempts to retrieve the map from Rey”s brain he senses something weird within her mind. Not resistance, but a barrier. Probing at it is what causes Rey to suddenly find herself – with no provocation – inside Ren”s mind. Now this is just speculation, but it certainly sounds like someone had walled off Rey”s Force sensitivity and Kylo Ren accidentally broke down the wall.

#23: Han hadn”t seen Kylo Ren/Ben since he became an adult. When Ben removes the helmet of Kylo Ren, Han Solo is shocked by how grown-up his son looks as he hasn”t seen him since he became an adult. This lends credence to the theory that Snoke seduced a teenaged Ben to the Dark Side. Speaking of which, Leia knew Snoke was trying to get his claws in her son since he was a child and never told Han until right before the Starkiller mission.

#24: Ren was perplexed by his reaction to his father”s death. Snoke had taught him Vader”s downfall was sentimentality. That if the father had managed to kill the son, or vice versa, the galaxy would never have fallen into chaos. Kylo Ren expected to feel triumphant at succeeding where his grandfather failed, but instead he feels what can only ben interpreted as regret.

#25: Leia and Rey have more interaction. Sometime between Rey”s arrival at the Resistance base and her mission to return the lightsaber to Luke Skywalker, Leia and Rey had a heart-to-heart about Kylo Ren. Leia fears sending Rey off to Luke because the last time she did that, it all went sideways. Leia is much more motherly and tender towards Rey in their interactions in the book.


Image Credit: Lucasfilm

#26: She seriously considered selling BB-8 to Unkar Plutt. When the droid protests this, Rey switches him off while she contemplates. In the end, she opts not to sell BB-8 because it”ll piss off Unkar Plutt and she really, REALLY hates that guy.

#27: That X-Wing pilot doll in Rey”s house? Made from reclaimed flight suit material. Whether or not she made it or it was given to her remains a mystery.

#28: Finn is the first person to ever ask her “Are you okay?” Rey reflects on this while she and Finn run for their lives from First Order aerial fire.

#29: Originally Rey didn”t want to help find the Resistance Base. In her haste to get back to Jakku, Rey merely offered to fly Finn and BB-8 to Ponemah Terminal. As a neutral territory, Finn and the droid could get transport to the Resistance HQ from there. It isn”t until Han Solo comes on board that she agrees to go the distance.

#30: Rey used to sneak onto the Millennium Falcon – and other ships – at night to study them. Which is how she knew so much about the Falcon's layout and internal workings. As a pilot, she”d been flying ground vehicles of all sorts since she could remember but she was fascinated by all things mechanical. 

#31: Unkar Plutt followed Rey to Maz Kanata”s cantina. After Finn”s departure but before Rey finds the lightsaber, she originally had a run-in with Unkar Plutt and his thugs. They”d tracked the Millennium Falcon, confirming Han”s suspicions that the ship wasn”t clean. Chewbacca rescues Rey and rips Plutt”s arm off. It”s pretty satisfying.

#32: Rey”s Force visions were slightly different. Instead of just the hallway beneath Cloud City, Rey makes out two figures battling with lightsabers in the distance. After she falls to the ground, a lightsaber slams into the ground, narrowly missing her head. Instead of her abandonment on Jakku, there”s an entirely different childhood memory. In barren, snowy woods Rey can hear battle in the distance. A voice she recognizes – but that is not identified to the reader – tell her “Stay here. I”ll come back for you. I”ll come back for you, sweetheart. I promise.” 

#33: Kylo Ren tries to gaslight Rey on their first meeting. He says Rey is truly the villain because she fired on him first, without knowing anything about him. He was only defending himself against attack.

#34: She is just as surprised as the rest of us that her Jedi Mind Trick worked. Rey has no idea what is going on, only that she is grateful her gamble worked.

#35: Rey stole a speeder for a high speed chase. With Finn. From the First Order. In order for Han and Chewie to get into the oscillator, Rey had to disconnect a bunch of wires in another building. She and Finn steal a speeder and go racing through the woods, switching places at least once so Finn can fire on their pursuit. It”s a pretty sweet little scene.

#36: She struggles with the Dark Side almost immediately. Rey might look serene as she finds the Force and battles a badly injured Kylo Ren, but she is fighting with rage. After beating down her opponent, a voice inside her encourages her to kill him. She rejects the notion, but is still struggling with herself when the rift opens up and separates the two of them.

Odds and Ends

#37: Kanjiklub were originally aliens. Ones” that wouldn”t degrade themselves by speaking basic.
#38: C-3P0 was fitted with a humility circuit in his last rebuild…it”s malfunctioning though.
#39: That Jakku village was considered sacred.
#40: The name of Maz”s planet is Takodana.
#41: The mountain range on Jakku is called the Sko”rraq Mountains.
#42: Originally the New Republic was housed on a single world, not multiple planets in the same system.
#43: Teedo – the alien that traps BB-8 – was a species name at first.
#44: The Resistance Base is on the planet of D”Qar.
#45: The First Order tracked Finn”s discarded stormtrooper armor to find his location.

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“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” novelization from Del Rey Book – written by Alan Dean Foster – is on sale now.