Cover Image: Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall

Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall

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Member Reviews

This may shock some friends, but Poe Dameron Free Fall is the first Star Wars novel I've ever read. I haven't even ready any of the comics. I did a rewatch of the newest trilogy movies as I was reading this book and it was such a great idea. They feel like a fresh version of the original three, but that's not what I'm here to discuss.

After Rise of Skywalker came out, I saw my Twitter feed fill up with many angry fans. They had various things to vocalize, but the main thread was that the PoC characters weren't treated fairly. When it came specifically to Poe Dameron, people were furious about the insinuation that the only Latino man was a drug dealer. For whatever reason, smuggling anything else is fine, but not "spice." It's not my lane, so I probably retweeted other voices that made more sense on the subject. I was curious to see what a YA novelization about Poe would bring to the table especially considering author Alex Segura is Hispanic and representation matters.

To clarify: that means this reviewer is white. Also to be transparent, Alex Segura and I have been in the same anthology (Protectors volume 2).

Nowhere in Free Fall does it refer to any human ethnicity; it's a distant galaxy far, far away in a different time so what we think of as race or ethnicity may not even exist. Alien species are described well for those like myself who don't have the Star Wars universe memorized. Also, give a shout out for Gen Tri, they are a non-conforming, non-binary gendered character. A Pau'an, a Klatooinian, and Twi'lek walk into a bar...

Like human ethnicities, there is no mention that "spice" is actually a drug. Readers only know it's an illegal substance and that it's run by smugglers like the Spice Runners of Kijimi, the most powerful of the star-crossing crime families. But, readers aren't stupid and we know that spice is supposed to be code for something like IRL cocaine or meth or what-have-you.

Poe Dameron is sixteen through this story; sometimes to referred to as a boy, sometimes as a man. It begins with Poe living with his father Kes Dameron on Yavin 4. Here readers will see the teen angst of Poe who feels stifled and trapped. His parents, Kes and Shara Bey fought in the Rebellion with General Leia Organa (there's a glimpse of Leia at the end while she's still a Senator and it's a beautiful moment). Before she died, Shara Bey taught young Poe everything about piloting spacecrafts. Naturally that gives him the drive to be in space and explore. As a young foolish person, Poe doesn't care how it happens. If his father won't allow him to enlist between the wars, then he'll take whatever comes his way to get off Yavin 4.

Poe's emotions feel genuine and real. Throughout the story, readers will see him question himself, his closest friend, and all authority figures. Being sixteen in this other galaxy places Poe and Zorii at the brink of adulthood. They're expected to be adults in many ways, especially Zorii. Kes would rather keep Poe in childhood a little bit longer for his emotions to mature. Zorii is far more independent and knows how to survive compared to Poe. When they meet in a bar and he finds out her crew needs a pilot, he goes all in without knowing a thing about them. They aren't just a small crew of thieves -- again something Poe would be cool with just like Han Solo; they are part of the massive organization called the Spice Runners of Kijimi.

After a couple of life-threatening jobs, Poe, Zorii, Marinda Gan, Tomasso, Vigilich, and Gen Tri head to Kijimi. I think you can tell by the foreshadowing that not all of them will make it to their destination. The challenges and battles along the way are intense. One such battle is against a Zabrak named Ledesmar. She sounds every bit as mesmerizing as other Star Wars baddies. Ledesmar is described as as: "a tall Zabrak woman draped in a flowing red cloak, her pale forehead framed by smallish horns above and around it. Designs decorated her face and visible skin. She weilded a long spearlike weapon with blades on each end." Ledesmar was so interesting, she could have been the "boss" villain at the end, but wait, it does build up from here.

There's something about Zorii. Something special. The couple of people who know won't tell Poe, including Zorii despite their intimate relationship. I won't spoil it here. She's more than Poe's first love. She's called an asset of unimaginable importance.

The next character that helps craft Poe into the kind of man we meet later in Rise of Skywalker, is the droid EV-6B6 or Eevee for short. In Skywalker, fans got to see Poe's bond with BB-8. It was just as vital as Luke Skywalker's friendship with R2D2. In Free Fall, Poe begins with a lot of hesitation and bias against droids. He doesn't trust them at all. Eevee is cheerful to the point where she's frequently annoying the other crew members. She only becomes part of their crew after the battle with Ledesmar. She's driven to help others and chooses the spice runners as friends because her masters (other thieves in the Pyke organization) have died and Ledesmar "wasn't very nice" to her. She has no one left from her ship/home. Ledesmar stole the ship from the Pyke crew and destroyed all of them except some droids. EV-6B6 has her own thought processing and beliefs. She makes her own choices even after it seems Poe is her adoptive new master. If something goes against her morals, she rejects it. Her relationship with Poe is earned and mutual. Because of EV-6B6, readers also get to meet Babu Frik, another character on Kijimi from Rise of Skywalker.

The New Republic is much stronger than fans see in Rise of Skywalker where it pretty much doesn't exist anymore. There's a young leader who has a personal vendetta against the Spice Runners of Kijimi. Selena Trune is more driven than Zorii and Poe put together. Sela Trune is an officer for the New Republic Security Bureau and she will not let anyone - not even direct orders from superiors - keep her from going after Zeva, the Spice Runners' mysterious leader.

The biggest character breakthrough is Zorii Wynn, a sixteen-year-old human who was forced to grow up faster than Poe. Sometimes she's referred to as a girl; sometimes a woman. She's as mature as a woman twice her age. She's been ferociously trained for hand-to-hand combat and space battle though she didn't know how to fly a ship until Poe teaches her. She's torn between love and her call to duty. Like many Star Wars characters, Zorii is seemingly locked into her destiny and it's a deeply tumultuous inner struggle for her to make her own choices and feel like she's doing the right thing. Free Fall is legitimately just as much Zorii's story as it is Poe's. If anything, it proves that she deserves her own book or movie.

In the final act, readers get their first real look at Zeva, the ruler of the vast network of murderers, thieves, and smugglers called the Spice Runners of Kijimi. She's a commander with skills for leading all these disconnected bands of criminals and making them a cohesive force feared by all. So feared, that the New Republic looks the other way if she's conducting business on a place like Kijimi and off their radar. Sela Trune is the only one who is willing to go after her directly no matter where she is. Zeva is such a legend that some people don't believe she exists, but that won't stop Sela Trune.

The ending battle is one of chaos between a variety of villains, Sela Trune, and a more self-aware Poe Dameron. Poe and Zorii continue to surprise each other right to the very end. They've switched demeanor on each other more times than I watched the gif of Poe and Finn hugging.

In a nutshell, fans who were troubled by Poe being a spice runner will not be let down by Free Fall. He knows Shara Bey and Kes Dameron raised him better than that. At sixteen, his mission is about finding a direction in life and that's what exactly what happens at the end after the dust settles on the fight with Zeva.

"Criminals are a cowardly, superstitious lot. But you know that," Zorii said.

I have to know if this quote by Zorii is a reference to the Batman Beyond episode where Terry and Bruce are watching Batman: The Musical and the lyrics say criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot.

Rating: 5 stars

Action and character evolution the way you wanted it.
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Free Fall to the Underworld

Alex Segura’s Free Fall is the first story in the canon almost exactly at the halfway point of the era between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. So many things haven’t been defined in this era, and we can see the author likes this situation.

We are getting new information about the failures of the governance of the New Republic. We will know after reading the novel how some crime gangs of the Sequel Trilogy (Guavian Death Gang and Spice Runners of Kijimi) have risen and how they are getting done their illegal deals. We know that the target audience is the adolescents, but I think they will not appreciate background info as I wrote about earlier. But these pieces of information is one of the things that make this novel likeable for the adult audience as well.

The other thing is the story itself. Officially this novel is about the early life of Poe Dameron, but the cover suggests we will know more about the past of Zorii Bliss as well. And that is how it is: we can read about Poe’s and Zorii’s motivations, spiritual struggles, and their history before the sequels. The dynamics between the two main characters are fine; they have a sometimes friendly, sometimes romantic, sometimes hostile relationship, which changes according to the pulsation of the story.

And the story pulsates well, until the end. Although it is often predictable what will happen next, sometimes the author pulls the unexpected. That’s why this novel is a good adventure of young spice runners in the galactic underworld. If Free Fall wouldn’t be tired by the end, we could mention it among the best canon novels, but it can’t be ashamed either. Free Fall was exciting reading material for me because of its many background info and some canonizations (for example spaceships and even some characters from Legends). Hopefully, it will be published in Hungary as well by Szukits printing house.
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I really love Poe so I was excited to get access to this book and it did not disappoint!! Overall the story was great with the same characteristics of Poe that I came to love in the movies!!
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After the let down of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker (in terms of Poe’s character development) I approached Poe Dameron: Free Fall with excitement and wariness. His life, I had thought, was pretty mapped out in the Dameron comics and in the Skywalker spin-off with Poe’s parents. The casual mention of Poe being a spice runner in the last sequel movie seemed random and out of place, yet Alex Segura stepped up to the plate and wove together a fun adventure that fit with the universe I thought I had known. 

Poe Dameron, a rowdy 16 year old, struggles with the knowledge of the heroic achievements of his parents, while he lives a monotonous life on Yavin 4. Yearning for some stories of his own, he takes his first opportunity off-world and runs away from home. Learning after the fact that he threw in his lot with The Spice Runners of Kijimi, we are abruptly put into the seedy underbelly of the New Republic which comes with gnarly piloting and fast shoot-outs. His friendship with the Spice Runners blossoms as he struggles between his morals and his short-term goals. You find yourself on the edge of your seat wondering how far Poe will compromise his values to maintain his loyalty to the Spice Runners. What will be the last straw that sends him down the path to becoming a rebellion hero?

Segura does a fantastic job with creating a young Poe. You can see that he still has a lot of growing to do before he becomes the man we grew to love in the movies, yet his passion and drive are there. For any interested in a more fully fleshed out Poe Dameron, I’d highly recommend Poe Dameron: Free Fall.
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In the Rise of Skywalker we learned that Poe Dameron, dashing pilot and Resistance leader was a man with a past. Like many other viewers, when I left the theatre I had questions. When did Poe have a former career as a spice runner? How did he come to join the Resistance? And who was Zorii? While we only met her in passing in the film, it was clear that there was a history between her and Poe and that she was a woman scorned.

In Free Fall we meet Poe as a young man devastated by the loss of his mother and struggling to find his place in the galaxy. A former Rebel pilot and war hero, his mother had taught him to fly and shared his sense of adventure. She understood him. He has a difficult relationship with his father, who is unable to cope with the death of his wife and responds by being overprotective. Poe also feels stifled by colony life on Yavin 4 – its days of excitement as a Rebel base long past.

After a run in with the local law enforcement and particularly nasty argument with his father he flees and runs into an admittedly shady group who just happen to be desperate for a pilot to get them off the planet. And in a hurry. Perhaps it is his age, inexperience with the galaxy outside of his small town or his overwhelming desire to leave his life behind, but he does not ask a lot of questions – which of course comes back to bite him.

Free Fall delivers a satisfying backstory for Poe Dameron, which is broad in scope and ethical complexity. There is adventure, daring escapes and the brilliant, bordering on crazy flight maneuvers that Poe is known for. What I enjoyed most about this book though is what we learn about Poe as a character. His emotional life is fully developed and portrayed with sensitivity. He is passionate, idealistic and someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. He makes mistakes but learns from them. We also get a broader sense of what is happening in the greater galaxy and insight into the New Republic which enriches our understanding of this period. Highly recommended.
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This book was so much better than I was expecting! Sometimes Star Wars books are mixed when they come to quality but this one does not disappoint. In this book we follow a teenage Poe Dameron who is desperate to get off of his home planet Yavin IV and travel across the galaxy. Desperate to leave he takes the first opportunity he gets and runs away with some smugglers only to find out that they are the infamous Spice Runners of Kijimi. Poe Dameron never intended to live a life of crime but it might be too late for him to turn back...or is it? Well if you've seen the sequel trilogy you know the answer to that question. 

The beginning was a bit slow but it picked up very fast. Once Zorri and her crew were introduced everything got 10x more exciting and it was a non-stop ride of thrills and battles. Poe is not really trusted by the rest of the crew so he was constantly left out of the plans. He was expected to follow orders without question. And as we all know Poe Dameron does not do well being in the dark. What was really great about this book was that Alex Segura really captured Poe's character. I could imagine Poe in these situations so vividly because his character matched the Poe we know from the films. Some Star Wars books fail to capture the essence of a character but this is not one of them. Even Zorri's character matched what little of her we saw in Episode IX. All of the character's were really enjoyable and I loved learning more about Poe's backstory since that was quite a mystery after Episode IX. Poe and Zorri make a really great team and even though this story takes place years and years before Episode IX their dynamic was basically the same. 

It was interesting to learn more about the New Republic. It turns out it wasn't so great was it? We see the beginnings of the New Republic in the Mandalorian and even then everyone thought it was a joke. That perception hasn't really changed. We get a New Republic officer character named Sela Trune and she was very loyal to the government she served. But even she grew frustrated that the New Republic was more focused on hunting ghosts of the past than focusing on the current rising threats of the galaxy aka the Spice Runners of Kijimi. The past is a big theme in this book. Poe wants to be like his mother and fly but he is also determined to create his own future. His choices are very defined by his past and the morals that his parents instilled in him. Poe is a child of the Rebellion and that shines through every possible way that it can. 

Now this book wasn't perfect so I have a few critiques. The first and most obvious being that I don't think anyone ran spice in this book! Poe's crew were usually sent on more dangerous missions and we kind of find out why that is but hey when I saw Poe was going to be joining the Spice Runners of Kijimi I expected him to be running some spice thats all I'm saying. Another thing is that sometimes I was a little confused. There were a lot of times where the characters would receive a piece of information that they supposedly didn't know but I could have sworn it was mentioned 100 pages ago. That could just be my memory but it happened enough times that I noticed. Thirdly is that the point of views were kind of all over the place. They would jump around to random characters so much that sometimes it wasn't very cohesive. Some characters got a lot of points of view that I thought didn't necessarily need one while others, most importantly being Zorri, hardly got any points of view. And even then we only got her point of view at the very end. I think this book should have been told from three perspectives to follow the three biggest storylines: Poe's, Zorri's, and Sela's. If it was done like that I think it would have fit together better. Lastly the ending is left a little open for one character in particular. I don't know if it was left that way so there is room for another book (which I would love by the way) but I wanted to know more about what happened with said character. 

This book was a lot of fun and it was definitely one of my favorite Star Wars books that I've read. I definitely recommend this book no matter what you think of the films. It was a good time and a great look into the more criminal side of the galaxy.
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For Star Wars fans, this is a great backstory for fan favorite Poe Dameron.  Even though his younger years are briefly touched on in the movie, this book does a great job of breathing more life into his character.  I liked the action and to see more about Poe, his family life, and glimpses of who he became.  My one gripe is having in third person and having giant blocks of backstory just dropped in was a little distracted, but it was definitely a fun read.
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I really enjoyed this Star Wars story. Alex Segura's writing style is wonderful and the entire story line was fast pace, exciting and super interesting.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an Advance Readers Copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This book was... fine. You get to see Poe's teenage years as he accidentally winds up with the Spice Runners of Kijimi. You learn a bit more about him, like how he learned the hyperspace skipping he does in Ep IX and how he decides to become part of the Resistance. You also learn more about Zorii, who was briefly introduced in Ep IX, but for a main character of this book, I didn't feel like I learned that much about her.

Things I liked:
-Babu Frik made a brief appearance!
-Joining the life of organized crime was accidental, which slightly lessened the blow of shoehorning a criminal history into the latino hero's past

Things I didn't like:
-Multiple mentions of the Spice Runners standing for something that's important to them, but no actual mention of what that was. What do they stand for?? I don't know!
-Zorii. You don't learn her motivation until the end and I didn't love how hot and cold she was with Poe, even if it made sense later.

Overall, this book had an alright adventure and expanded on Poe's backstory but it had a lot of parts that annoyed me. I hope we get better Poe books in the future.
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I really need to loosen up when it comes to YA Star Wars novels. I'll hold my hands up and own the fact that I always roll my eyes or, even just think to myself that I'll get around to reading it at some point.

And when I do, I usually kick myself because I have enjoyed all of them so far.

This is the first one I have actively gone for and was lucky enough to get a chance to read a review copy courtesy of the Disney Book Group (thank you).

I was initially excited for this book, the same as I was a few years ago when the 'Poe Dameron' series by Charles Soule was announced because I love the character, I always have from the moment he asked Kylo Ren, "Who talks first?" I was hooked.

I have enjoyed him all the way through the Sequel Trilogy, his wit, his character arc and every time his theme comes on in the soundtrack I just love it.

So to get some more backstory about his younger years that ties into his relationship with Zorii Bliss AND his time as a Spice Runner was a thrill for me.

Without going into heavy spoilers, here is a very, very brief rundown of the story.

We meet a 16 year old Poe Dameron who is a bit stir crazy and reckless, he ends up joining with some less than legitimate people, including Zorii with whom Poe develops a close relationship.

They go on a number of adventures, get hunted by the New Republic and after a while end up on Kijimi where everything comes to a head.

What I really loved about the book was how well Segura writes Star Wars. He really knows how to craft a story in the universe and truly gets the characters he writes. I had no difficulty in picturing a young Oscar Isaac whilst reading the book and the same with a younger Keri Russell as Zorii.

The secondary characters are well written and enjoyable, the gang Poe ends up with really feel like a team, even though some don't get a lot of action they all have their place. One notable new character is the Droid called Eevee who once introduced becomes a welcome member of the team and a great source of comic relief. Even though we know Poe and Zorii will make it out alive, the majority of the characters are fair game.

Segura also gives us to time with a couple of characters introduced in the 'Shattered Empire' comics, Poe's father Kes Dameron and his family friend, L'ulo L'ampar in supporting roles, which help connect all of the Po Dameron stories we have had so far.

I really hope Alex Segura continues to write Star Wars books, he has proven he k led ow to write a great Star Wars book and understands the existing characters and add great new dimensions to them.

The book really flows well, the story is fun and engaging. The adventures the characters go on are thrilling and tense at times, the quieter moments also shine and the interactions between Zorii and Poe all help build up the relationship they had in their youth and gives us an insight to their relationship in 'The Rise of Skywalker'.

'Free Fall' is definitely worth a read, it's fast paced, thoroughly enjoyable and adds some great content to the Star Wars canon.

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– Minor Spoiler Review –

Poe Dameron: Free Fall is a young adult novel written by Alex Segura, exploring the character’s newly revealed spice running backstory. With an enjoyable, action-packed pace and great characterizations, especially for a younger Poe and Zorii Bliss, Free Fall hits a few heights, but it can’t escape feeling like it’s crossing items off a list for this new backstory.

To me, Poe Dameron: Free Fall is for Poe what Solo: A Star Wars Story is for Han Solo, wrapping up many various threads of a beloved character’s backstory into one, compressed story that feels more like checks on a checklist than wholly organic, but still manages to be a fun time with great performances, or in this book’s case, writing/characterizations. Basically everything newly introduced to Poe as a character in The Rise of Skywalker, from lightspeed skipping, hot-wiring vehicles, to his fractured relationship with Zorii Bliss gets an explanation here, much like Solo showed us everything from Han getting the Falcon, how he met Chewie, to his fractured friendship with Lando Calrissian. By the end of Free Fall, Poe not only remains a hero of sorts, he’s back on the path we already know he’ll go on, finally following in his mother, and father’s, footsteps, which makes this adventure with a nefarious group of smugglers more of a bump on the road than anything terribly significant in Poe’s life, but this might be a feeling I have from consuming previous Poe expansion materials, like his excellent on-going comic or Before the Awakening, which provide more substantial looks into what drives him/how he handles choosing the right thing. And while the addition of a smuggling background to a Latino character like Poe felt problematic in TROS, thankfully Segura manages to mitigate it to some degree as Poe largely doesn't actually commit any crimes, keeping him cleaner than the film suggests, but this book then also highlights how unnecessary and formulaic this whole part of his life seems. It doesn’t help Free Fall either that the chapters seemingly jump just enough time to give us a glimpse of him learning or trying something seen in TROS, as if lightspeed skipping itself, something similar character-prequel novel Rebel Rising managed to avoid in its exploration of Jyn Erso’s formative years. While many of these shortcomings mirror Solo’s, Free Fall also captures the film’s charm, as Alex Segura brings excellent and varied characterizations to life, while the pace, despite its focus on the checklist, is brisk and enjoyable.

Poe and Zorii Bliss’ burgeoning friendship takes center stage and thankfully Segura has a great handle on both characters, capturing Poe’s naivety and heroic spirit in stride, while expanding on the cold, but caring Zorii that Kerri Russel graced the The Rise of Skywalker with, despite small screentime. For Poe, seeing him in his younger, though still cocky years was entertaining, especially as he grows in maturity about the galaxy at large and earns the ability to be cocky. The expansion on his relationship with both his father, Kes Dameron, and surrogate uncle L’ulo L'ampar, were fantastic additions to Poe’s past, fleshing out some of the unknowns and offering time with characters I’ve been eager to spend more time with…especially L’ulo.* While Poe’s mother, Shara Bey, has already passed by the start of Free Fall, she was arguably the more important and touching parental interactions throughout the novel for me, as Poe frequently reminisces about her and what her teachings mean on his search for purpose and life outside the quiet confines of Yavin IV; it becomes clear by the end of the novel she lives up to the memories and pedestal he puts her on, making me glad we’re getting more time with her.† Every teenager has their rebellious ways, but for Poe not to immediately considering joining up with the New Republic military (which again would’ve drawn a big Solo comparison) made his joining the Spice Runners feel like a stretch, especially as he continuously tries to make peace with his choice, which pits him against the NR and therefore what his parents fought for, something he constantly mentions throughout. Poe is impulsive, and it shows here by making the choice to join the Spice Runners, but Segura does his best with Poe’s rationalizations to help string along the idea he’d stay with the group for the nearly year long time that he does, though of course Poe's main reason for staying is love. The relationship between Poe and Zorii is written well and befits both characters, helping to flesh out why she gives Poe a less than friendly greeting on Kijimi in TROS, though I wish we got more POV time with her. In the end, Poe fans will enjoy Segura's younger take overall, no matter the overall content of the story.

This brings us to Zorii, a character I was looking forward to exploring more in Free Fall than Poe, and the book largely didn’t disappoint. Zorii, about Poe’s age, has grown up living the life of the Spice Runners, so she comes from a much different place than Poe, but the two find a bond over having to prove themselves to their superiors and figuring out what they truly want in life. She may be pragmatic, less impulsive than Poe, and committed to the cause, but she isn’t all heartless, as we saw in TROS, and we get even better glimpses here, like a situation that involves uncovering a slavery ring run by one of the Runners’ contacts. Free Fall offers sections in her POV, but they are too infrequent, as Segura makes her even more compelling character once we get to see her rationalizations and feelings about Poe, the Runners, and her part in its legacy. Zorii’s sections are so good, it’s even more glaring we don’t get more time with her POV, as while I know the title is technically Poe Dameron: Free Fall, the overall book would feel even stronger with more time spent in the new character’s head. There’s a reveal late in the book, though it’s not hard to guess early on, regarding Zorii’s ties and importance to the Runners that offers even more intrigue and potential to have focused more on her, while the storyline provides a new angle and exposure to something Star Wars doesn’t cover often. It also feels like it comes into play far too late in the novel, robbing the moment of really hitting home before the thread is wrapped up shortly after. What goes down between Poe and Zorii, hence their icy confrontation in TROS, does remind me of Qi’ra and Han in Solo to some extent, which is meant as a compliment as it’s one of the film’s stronger aspects, and it’s why I wish this whole section was expanded on. Free Fall adds to and expands on Zorii Bliss in excellent, though somewhat limited ways, revealing the unfortunate brevity of her TROS appearance and making me wish for more of the character.

One of the other big characters in the novel is its antagonist of sorts, Sela Trune, an officer in the New Republic Security Bureau. She has a personal history with the Runners, while her relentless pursuit of them, in an attempt to bring them to justice and stop them from becoming the next big gang, pits her against Poe, Zorii, and their little Runners cell throughout the novel. She’s also a character I would’ve loved more time with too, as I enjoyed her crusade and how Segura framed and handled it. The rest of the Runners crew that Poe and Zorii deal with aren’t particularly memorable, but all enjoyable for the parts they play. There’s a confrontation with an escaped Pyke slave Ledesmar, who takes over a fleet of ships from a strange race, in the middle of the novel which is one of the highlights of Poe’s whole Runners experience, and of the book for me, as it's a section of plot that isn’t part of the checklist feeling that permeates the rest of the story; it focuses on the developing feelings between Poe and Zorii, Poe's allegiances to his past and future, and Trune's ambitious attempts at vengeance. In the end, I can't really blame Free Fall for having this story to tell, that's on the writers of TROS, so it's admirable how Segura manages to make the story engaging and fast paced, with great characterizations centering the narrative, but the limited scope of Poe's choice holds the overall story back, making it feel more of a diversion than anything terribly important to the character's life.

Here are a few other things:

*We first meet L’ulo in Shattered Empire, alongside Shara Bey and Kes Dameron. L’ulo didn’t get much panel-time then, though he does help convince Shara to retire, but later he has a starring role in the Poe Dameron on-going comic, though it ends in tragedy with a big sacrifice. Getting more time with him in Free Fall was some much needed therapy, though it re-opened the wound a bit too!
†Besides Shattered Empire, Poe’s parents haven’t been in too many appearances. Thankfully, they're a part of the 2nd Volume of Star Wars, so if you want to see more of them, check that out!
Covers have been known to change, but I’m curious about the switch from Alice X. Zhang's in the original announcement to Phil Noto’s for the final one. I like both: Noto’s has more from the novel than just Poe, but Zhang's I felt better depicted a younger Poe; either way, good covers both.
This is not a knock against the novel at all, but having to read the “Spice Runners of Kijimi” hundreds of times in Free Fall certainly made the name feel even more uninspired and dull than originally imagined when mentioned in the lead up to TROS. Most gangs and crime syndicates have imaginative names (Crimson Dawn, Black Sun), or interesting sounding ones even if it's just the name of their species (Hutts, Pykes, etc.), but the criminals out of Kijimi put the name of their business right on the box, a name which doesn't jive well with what happens in Free Fall, as I can't remember them actually smuggling any spice. We get a lot more background on the organization, like how they swooped in on the Pykes' Kessel situation post-Endor, but it doesn't help the name "Spice Runners" from feeling so...bland. If I don't have to read about them for a while, I'll be much happier.
Yes, there is more Babu Frik and it’s as great as you’d expect.
There’s some crossover with Galaxy’s Edge tie-in novel Black Spire at the end, interestingly enough.

Poe Dameron: Free Fall is the title character's own Solo: A Star Wars Story, an overall enjoyable adventure romp that can't escape feeling like it's ticking off boxes on the backstory sheet.

+ Poe and Zorii characterizations shine/Segura's writing overall

+ Takes some of the good from Solo: A Star Wars Story...

- ...and some of the meh as well

- Overall feels like a diversion, not important backstory

(I haven't posted my review yet but I've included the link below!)
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This was a fun Star Wars story. It was great to get some background on Poe. In most of the new Star Wars books you can tell what points the author was told they needed to hit to explain things in the movies.  The points weren't hit quite as subtly in this book as in some but it didn't take me out of the story too much.
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This was a wild ride of a story! I had high hopes for my first ever Star Wars novel, and Free Fall satisfied them perfectly.

Young Poe was just as I hoped and imagined! The familiar hotshot rascal I know and love from the movies, but inexperienced and still searching for his place in the galaxy. I was sucked into his story instantly and enjoyed every moment.

It was so intriguing to see more of Zorii and her and Poe’s relationship. Their story felt so real, and slotted in perfectly with what I knew from the movies already, which has me thoroughly in awe.

I was secretly hoping for some epic space chases, and this book dished out the perfect measure. Hyperspace jumping, impossible odds, impulsive plans that sometimes work, sometimes don’t—the action scenes were thoroughly epic. This book kept me turning pages the whole way. Even knowing the vague backstory already, the details of this plot were incredible and had me hooked.

The ending was heart wrenching, but so perfect. Poe’s arc flows so naturally through the whole book, and Alex Segura executes the story masterfully.

A great read for Star Wars lovers, for sure!!

Thank you NetGalley for the e-ARC!
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I loved how this expanded Poe's story. He's an engaging character in the films, but like so many Star Wars novels, this book fleshes out his tale. If Segura wrote more of Poe's tale, I'd read it!
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If you're like me, you absolutely love the Star Wars sequel trilogies. I was super excited to get an early reading copy of this book, and I loved learning more about Poe Dameron before the events of what we see in Star Wars episode seven. The writing really jumped off the page, and I could see everything super clearly. What I loved the most was the way the author sticks to Poe's voice-- but not only that, we get a sense of a younger Poe. It flowed seamlessly, and I think anyone reading this book will have a greater appreciation for the movies. I would highly recommend this one.
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Poe Dameron: Spice Runner is one of those moments from The Rise of Skywalker that doesn't seem to gibe with what we had already learned of the character, both from the movies and other media.  This book does an exemplary job of making the backstory work.  And while Poe is on the cover, really this feels more like the story of Zorii Bliss as told from Poe's POV.  Segara does an amazing job of capturing Poe's character - you can almost hear Oscar Isaac with every line of dialogue - but Zorii is the real star here, and you're left wanting more of her.

Overall a great read and a rare YA Star Wars novel that actually has the feel of a Star Wars story.  Going to share this with my 10-year old Star Wars fanatic to get his feedback; he has been let down by some of the Star Wars YA selections but I feel this will be right up his alley.  

(We will be reviewing this on our podcast and posting that link in a few weeks when he does finish it.)
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Poe Dameron: Free Fall is a coming-of-age tale packed with the perils of teenage rebellion. 

If you left The Rise of Skywalker with a lot of questions about the eleventh-hour inclusions to Poe Dameron’s backstory, then Alex Segura’s young adult novel, Poe Dameron: Free Fall is the book for you. 

“You can love your family and still want to be far from them.”- Zorii Wynn

Poe Dameron’s upbringing is a familiar Star Wars origin story. In the years following his mother’s death, Poe finds himself feeling trapped at his family’s farm on the moon colony of Yavin 4, longing for a life among the stars. Dameron’s mother, Shara Bey, was a heroic rebel pilot and that thirst for adventure and flight runs hot through the sixteen-year old’s veins. He’s a kid with big dreams that can’t be contained by his father’s wishes for a quiet reprieve from the Rebellion.

 “He doesn’t want me to die like Mom did,” Poe said. “In space. Alone.”

Some of the best moments within Free Fall are the scenes between Poe and his still-mourning father, Kes Dameron. In the wake of Shara’s death, their relationship has fractured and the grief that exists between them is palpable. So much of that strain is rooted in their inability to openly express their pain with each other. Kes desperately wants to keep Poe safe, to preserve his wife’s sacrifice by keeping their son sheltered. Ultimately, that’s what drives Poe headfirst into an unplanned life of crime with the Kijimi Spice Runners. 

The novel goes to great lengths to explain several plot points from The Rise of Skywalker; from Poe’s relationship with Zorii Bliss, his involvement with the spice running, and hyperspace skipping. Babu Frick manages to steal every scene he’s in, just as he did in the film. It was exciting to see familiar planets appear throughout the story including Kijimi and The Mandalorian’s forested planet of Sorgan. 

Some elements of the interactions with the Kijimi Spice Runners felt watered down to satisfy a young adult audience. They were certainly a group that had no qualms with associating with slavers and murderers, and murdering their own. At some points, I wished they leaned more into that gritty criminal underbelly, but it served its purpose by showing Poe the dangers that lay beyond Yavin 4. 

Poe Dameron: Free Fall is Poe Dameron’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. The novel is an exciting space-romp with all the makings of a classic Star Wars story. There are fast-paced starship chases, heart-pumping firefights, doublecrossing and betrayal, a smattering of romance, and a healthy dose of Senator Leia Organa inspiring the next generation with hope. Alex Segura manages to put to the page all of the charm Oscar Isaac pours into his portrayal of Poe Dameron. 

Your Money Geek thanks Del Rey Publishing & NetGallery for providing us with a free copy for review.
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After viewing THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, I wasn't sure how to make the film's assertion that Poe Dameron had been an illegal spicerunner fit with what we already knew about Poe's background and New Republic service from novels such as BEFORE THE AWAKENING and comics such as SHATTERED EMPIRE and POE DAMERON. Alex Segura's FREE FALL explains this seeming contradiction and also provides a fascinating look at Zorri Bliss, the Spice Runners of Kijimi, and the dawning era of the New Republic. This is a page-turning story of crime, adventure, and mystery that stars an easily recognizable but much younger Poe, restless and frustrated and learning as he goes. Segura's characterization of Poe and description of his journey works well. My main criticism is that the ending comes very abruptly, without resolution of the Poe Dameron-Kes Dameron storyline or explanation of how Poe's record was made clean enough to enable him to volunteer to serve the New Republic. If a sequel is in the works to tie up these loose threads, I'd be delighted! For its characterization, the world building, and the many answered questions, I would recommend this tale to anyone who wants a good Star Wars novel -- or, for that matter, any YA science fiction reader.
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***I received an uncorrected proof of this ebook from netgalley in exchange for an honest review***

⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book was a quick, fun read. The writing style was compelling, and the pacing was excellent- it really captured that classic Star Wars high-adrenaline feel. Alex Segura did a really good job at showing us the Poe we know, but at an age while he is still forming. You can really see the hints of his full personality coming through. I was really excited to learn more about about the backstory between Poe and Zorii.  I was not disappointed! All in all, this is a fun young adult SW adventure.
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The gritty criminal underworld has always intrigued me when it comes to Star Wars. From bounty hunting to spice-running, I’ve always loved learning of the lore behind the various cartels and enclaves that haunt the galaxy between Tatooine and 1313. ‘Poe Dameron: Free Fall’, written by Alex Segura, captured this world wonderfully. Following a 16-year-old Poe Dameron, the story sees a lost boy dreaming of the stars before finally venturing out on a journey that will inevitably lead to the Resistance by the time of Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens.

Personally, I loved the novel. It begins on Yavin 4, 20 years after the Battle of Yavin. Over the years, an agricultural focused community has developed on the moon, and Poe dreads the idea of being left to tend to the family farm. He’s swooped up into the life of a Spice Runner of Kijimi and is quickly thrown into the thick of it, battling other crime syndicates and staying constantly on the run from the New Republic Security Bureau. I really loved the balance between Poe and his life of crime, and how he truly feels about the events taking place, desperately wanting to return home but knowing that he’ll inevitably be arrested. One of my issues with 2019s 'Rise of Skywalker' was how Poe was implied to be a Han Solo-esque scoundrel, but the novel made it clear that this was not the case. Watching the Kijimi scenes of that film will definitely hold a heavier impact for me upon rewatch. Not completely game-changing, but knowing the planet and how it operates will definitely shift my perspective.

I felt that Segura developed the character of Poe wonderfully, and showed that his time as a Spice Runner wasn’t two dimensional. As I said, he wasn’t a scoundrel like Han Solo, but a conflicted boy unsure of how to get out of something that he was already too deep into. I felt that the novel captured inner conflict perfectly, and that, by the conclusion, we were beginning to see the Poe Dameron that featured in the 2016-2018 comic book series.

The inclusion of new characters such as Sela Trune mixed nicely with building on characters already found in lore, such as L’ulo L’ampar. Sela Trune in particular was interesting. This novel is likely the only time we’ll logically see her, as her story is told entirely, but I really enjoyed her scenes. She reminded me of the character of Berch Teller from James Luceno’s ‘Tarkin’ in her determination and motivations. I hope there's more to her, and maybe we see her included in further canon down the line, but I would understand if we don't.

The book also shines a fantastic light on Zorri Bliss. We see her undying commitment to the Spice Runners of Kijimi, and get to watch her develop a rocky relationship with Poe, all while battling her own inner turmoil. The mystery surrounding her and the story behind her helmet in the film are great additions to the lore. That, again, will hold more weight upon rewatching 'Rise of Skywalker'. Most of all, however, the novel features the beloved Babu Frik, whom I’m sure will be the deal breaker for many.

While I found the book to slightly stumble in terms of pacing in the latter chapters, I found the characters to be well developed, the plot to be exactly what it needed to be, and the continuity to be extremely fun (Fans of Star Wars: Galaxies MMO will have a blast). This, to me, has added so much to Poe’s character, and will make a genuine change to the Sequel Trilogy and how I feel about the character upon rewatch. A great addition to canon and I hope we get more Poe-focused stories in future.
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