Cover Image: Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall

Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This review will not be posted on my blog, chriswerms.wordpress.com, until the day of release. Please note that it may also be posted at mynockmanor.com. 

Poe Dameron: Free Fall recounts the time that Poe Dameron spent as a spice runner with the Spice Riders of Kijimi. Opening on the idyllic planet of Yavin IV, the planet that housed the Rebel Alliance during the events of Star Wars Rebels season 4, Rogue One, and A New Hope (featuring a fun cameo in Doctor Aphra), we find the Dameron family in some sort of dis-unity. Poe, an impetuous and, well, teenage-ry, 16 year old, is getting fed up with the peaceful life he is living on Yavin IV. Unfortunately, his father, a former Rebel Pathfinder who fought in both the Battles of Hoth and Endor, is ready to retire and live a hard-won life of peace after the war. After the death of Shara Bey (mentioned in Greg Rucka’s Before the Awakening), a rift grew between the two, and their conflict is about to reach a boiling point. 

This conflict almost immediately puts Poe at a disadvantage, because readers like I know Kes Dameron’s story, and we (or, at least, I) am very sympathetic to the man wanting to live a life of peace. Some may already be predisposed to not liking this book, feeling it an unnecessary retcon from The Rise of Skywalker, an unnecessary addition to his story that was detailed in Resistance and Charles Soule’s Poe Dameron ongoing series from Marvel. As much as I tried to put these series out of my mind and read the novel for what it is as a story, and try to ignore the meta-context of this novel, it was hard to completely remember that this novel exists to fill in a few lines from the film. Unfortunately, a brash and hot-headed and young Poe Dameron, clashing with his war hero father, does not enamor me to the character very much. These two elements, that this book exists to fill some holes and an unlikeable, at first, Poe, made this novel start off on the wrong foot with me.

This conflict does reach its climax despite the best efforts of L’ulo L’ampar, a fan favorite character from Poe Dameron, Rebacca Roanhorse’s excellent Resistance Reborn, and The Journey to The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire. After an impressively large fight, and Poe being bailed out of Yavin prison again, Poe joins a crew in a local bar, thinking this crew would be his escape from the planet into a life of adventure. Unfortunately, this crew is made up of spice runners, who are notorious across the galaxy. Since the fall of the Empire over ten years ago, gangs and criminal syndicates are raising hell across the galaxy, and this one in particular is known far and wide as extremely dangerous.

Comprising the crew are Zorii Wynn and mostly forgettable side characters, save for a few details on them. Viglitch, the head of this particular crew, is...an older boss who is mean to the new guy. Gen Tri, a non-binary Pau’an, is a bit more memorable, as they seem out of place for a smuggling crew. They are also a welcome addition to the small amount of non-binary representation we’ve had in the galaxy, with the most notable (to this author) example being Taka from DJ Older’s Last Shot. Zorii is, of course, the stand out of the novel, as she has the benefit of being a movie character. She and Poe develop a romance over the course of the novel, and this is where I started to appreciate Poe again. Zorii is a strong character on her own right: she believes in the cause of the spice runners, she is adaptable and willing to learn, and she is a no-nonsense woman who figures out what problems are around her and does everything she can to fix them. She also, fantastically, puts Poe in his place very often, and he grows a lot because of her.

The crew is chased by a New Republic officer, Trune, who is set on capturing the spice runners as revenge for what they did to her family and her home. (It would be nice, just once, to see a good member of the New Republic fighting for what’s right because it was right.) Trune makes for a good foil for Poe, challenging him to see how far he would go as a spice runner. 

If you ignored my spoiler warning above, this would be the time to duck out again. 

My two biggest problems with the book follow. The first is that Poe never seems to get over wondering if he made the correct decision to leave Yavin IV. It feels like this is the refrain of the entire novel, and I wish he had made a decision one way or another. Instead, he is given the chance to make this decision, and it is taken away from him. 

Now, this next paragraph can be taken a few ways, and maybe that’s because I don’t know how I feel exactly. So, let me start with this: I need to carefully nuance this - I am not a fan of the fact that Star Wars has featured SO MANY Latino/Latina characters as spice runners. I think that’s a dangerous precedent that needs to be discarded soon, without discarding the Latino/Latina rep. That being said, I don’t remember him ever directly piloting a ship that was running spice. Instead, he still shows a lot of heroism in freeing slaves and never quite going along with the spice runners’ worst ideas. Maybe he did, and I simply missed that part. I’m not saying that I wish Poe would’ve run spice, but I am just curious how Segura decided to balance the new info from Episode IX with this novel. I am more than happy to learn and listen on this portion, so I am curious where the fan reaction comes out in the next few weeks for this novel.

Finally, my second critique is that this is yet another novel in a long string of covering a large amount of time with few events. Similar books include Thrawn by Timothy Zahn or Rebel Rising (an incredible book, please read it) by Beth Reeves. This novel purports to cover almost the entire time that Poe was a spice runner. Sure, a comic could throw in an adventure here or there, or another novel can back-load a spice run into the space of this story, but I think it’s a mistake to continue covering entire timelines in a single book as these three examples did.

Overall, the book is alright. The character dynamic between Zorii and Poe is nice, making it a good middle-grade reading time. I just wish it had a bit more substance, and more deftly used this tumultuous time in Poe’s life to make a stronger statement about who he was, and how he became the man who would be General in the Resistance.
Was this review helpful?
Conclusion from the full review:
Between this year's sequels and prequels like Queen's Peril or Shadow Fall as well as the upcoming launch of The High Republic, Poe Dameron: Free Fall may seem like the underdog of the year, but don't count out Alex Segura's first Star Wars book just yet. After a long buildup, this novel's central conflict races towards a well-earned payoff, leading me to finish this book feeling thoroughly entertained. I absolutely recommend reading this important chapter from Poe's life when it hits shelves on August 4th!

Further bullet points taken from the full review:
- a fast-paced adventure novel that throws you right into the middle of the action, classic Star Wars-style!
- between fast-paced hyperspace skipping and gang wars, Segura gives Poe room to breathe and reflect his situation, making his situation believable
- it's well-connected to other pieces of Star Wars media
- Zorii Bliss is given an interesting role of her own and her own dark secrets keep this novel suspenseful
- a very poetic ending taking a meta view at Poe's past and future life
Was this review helpful?
Good but the writing felt a little childish at some points. I thought the characterization was really good though and it was an interesting story!
Was this review helpful?
Poe Dameron: Free Fall, is a fun read. I give it a solid three stars for the action and the fun of seeing a young Poe Dameron and some of the events that lead him to where he was when we meet him in the movies.

Unfortunately, that’s it. Poe is essentially a young Luke in his own way: a farm boy with a boring life with dreams of something bigger, fueled by the stories of his parents. Both battled to take down the Death Star, rebellion fighters. Poe lost his mother at a young age and it broke his father, snuffing out the fire inside him. He wanted to keep Poe safe at any cost. 

Poe wanted to escape the boring monotony of life on Yavin 4. He was taught to fly as a young child and it’s his dream to leave the planet. When he does he gets wrapped up with a violent group that leads to him doing things he’s not okay with. 

He wonders if he’s okay with it when it’s very obvious he’s not. IT seems like he’s just waiting for an easy out, something that he won’t have to say no to because it will be so egregious that it will be obvious that the novice Spice Runner will be up for it. 

That and the relationship between Poe and Zorii. They’re too different and the differences are constantly brought up. There are multiple points where the two of them have tension when it becomes apparent that neither will change their minds about what the believe. The book also has to do double duty to show Poe’s life but also who Zorii is and why she’s so important so that when she’s seen in the movie, it all makes sense. 

It’s not done too well because their relationship in the movie has changed and there’s no reason for it to. Poe will be DOA on Kijimi if he ever returns but the one person who has the most reason to kill him, who he hasn’t seen in years, helps him. YEs they scuffle in the film but it’s blown over rather quickly. There never felt like there was any real tension between them and Poe’s decision to stay or go. He’s already made up his mind maybe thirty percent into the book and dragging it on passed that when it’s obvious what he really wants just made for some really over written parts. 

The story was fun and seeing a young Poe was really enjoyable. An easy read, fast too. But it just wasn’t enough, I wanted more from it by the middle of the book and it wasn’t really delivered on.
Was this review helpful?
Alex Segura, in my opinion, is allowed to write a Star Wars novel anytime he'd like after Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall. This story represents the best of the Star Wars expanded universe as it offers an exciting look into the personal history of a man who will become a hero. Full of action, adventure, wise-cracks, and a little romance, this is a must-read for fans who want to know more about the best pilot in the galaxy.

Many people have been craving this novel since The Rise of Skywalker revealed that Poe was a Spice Runner. My craving began in the Shattered Empire comic when introduced to Shara Bey and Kes Dameron - heroes of the Rebellion and parents to our eventual hero. Their story is still developing throughout canon content, but we get a significant portion of it here. It is the relationship Poe has with his parents, and their legacies, that sets the novel off and drives every decision he makes going forward. That is until he meets a savvy sixteen-year-old young woman named Zorii and her merry band of misfit criminals. It is then, in a cantina on Yavin IV, that Poe gets his first opportunity to play rebel long before he joins the Resistance.

Poe Dameron: Free Fall is another win for the Star Wars expanded universe. Alex Segura's writing is exceptional, and his ability to tell stories in this universe is up there with the likes of Rae Carson, Claudia Gray, Cavan Scott, and Charles Soule. If you haven't read this yet, please do so as soon as possible. At the very least, pre-order it from your favorite bookstore. I'd consider this a must-read.
Was this review helpful?
***MILD SPOILERS ALERT***

Expectations and boundaries set by parents and loved ones can be difficult—whether you’re destined to be the best pilot in the Resistance or being groomed to take over the family business.

“Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall,” Alex Segura’s young adult novel, focuses on relationships and boasts great action and an authentic path to Poe becoming an expert “flyboy,” starting in his mom’s A-wing—as a trio of coming-of-age characters navigate their arcs to understand what their future holds—after traumatic pasts. 

Taking place after “Return of the Jedi” but before “The Force Awakens,” a young adult Poe, Zorri Wynn (no typo), and Sela Trune, a New Republic Security Bureau officer, have intersecting stories as they’re shot into the reality, decisions, and consequences of adulthood.

There are equal parts nostalgic accents from the original trilogy—Poe grows up on Yavin 4 with parents who are war heroes from the Battle of Endor and friends with Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker—and nods to the sequel trilogy, as the story primarily focuses on Poe’s life leading up to joining the Resistance. 

From his warmest memories of learning to fly as a child to questioning if he’s doing the right thing as a person—and son of his Rebel Alliance parents—Poe is much more adept at turning a barrel-roll in a congested asteroid field than he is understanding his own feelings and desires. 

This is true for Zorri and Sela as well—as the story shares the struggles of the New Republic governing and policing the galaxy and how it empowers criminal syndicates in the Outer Rim—especially the upstart Spice Runners of Kijimi, who also include a certain droidsmith named Babu Frik. 

A strength of the book is the breakdown of how the criminal underworld now operates without the Empire in charge. Details are shared about the upheaval of the Pykes former spice business model—and the power grab by the Spice Runners—with their mysterious leader Zeva—the Zualijinn Syndicate, the Guavian Death Gang, and more. 

As Poe learns under fire—literally and figuratively—the audience sees how he experienced so many of the skills that led Finn, in “The Rise of Skywalker,” to ask where his friend learned “all that shifty stuff you do.”

The criminal world backdrop allowed for magic moments of wordcraft like Segura’s, “The attendees were made up of allies, enemies, and acquaintances—the entire spectrum was present at this meeting.” But there was also literal and storytelling “hyperspace skipping”—where some items felt crammed into numerous, sometimes overly-convenient, short bursts as items from the most-recent film are backfilled and complicated webs of this book needed to be tied up quickly.

We meet great new characters, get additional background on some we’ve already met in the films, and visit numerous planets—making it an interesting Star Wars journey—but the book may have tried to do one or two too many things while serving as a new story and also filling in the blanks of Poe and Zorri’s on-screen characters. 

Following in the footsteps of other fantastic Star Wars young adult novels, “Free Fall” kept inching closer but never quite matched the thruster power of some of its predecessors.

That being said—"Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall” was still an overall fun jaunt through the galaxy of Star Wars—and a changing criminal underworld landscape—and would be a rewarding read to hop in a starship cockpit and quickly get your fix for a galaxy far, far away. 

And this is absolutely the book Finn wants to read about his buddy Poe—who finally discovers who and where he is meant to be.
Was this review helpful?
Vergangenen Dezember mussten wir nach 42 Jahren schlussendlich Abschied von den Star Wars-Helden unserer Kindheitstage nehmen – glücklicherweise aber nur auf der großen Leinwand. Während die Skywalker-Saga mit Der Aufstieg Skywalkers zu Ende ging, ist für den Krieg der Sterne selbst nämlich noch lange kein Aus in Sicht – und auch die neu eingeführten Helden der letzten Trilogie dürfen in Büchern, Comics und mehr auch zukünftig Abenteuer erleben. Das erste direkte Tie-in-Buch dieser Art, Free Fall, widmet sich dabei Resistance-Pilot Poe Dameron, und im Speziellen der in Episode IX bereits angeteaserten, nicht ganz so astreinen Vergangenheit des Rebellen.

Poe Dameron in Free Fall ist noch einige Jahre von seiner Karriere unter Leia Organa entfernt und lebt als 16-Jähriger mit seinem Vater auf dem ruralen Mond Yavin 4. Kes Dameron, einstiger Pathfinder und Rebell im Widerstand gegen das Imperium, hat genug vom Kämpfen und möchte nichts weiter, als den Rest seiner Tage in Frieden verbringen – doch Poe hat andere Pläne. Im Gegensatz zu Kes träumt er von einer Zukunft als Pilot und von Abenteuern zwischen den Sternen – allesamt motiviert von den Geschichten seiner verstorbenen Mutter, der einstigen A-Wing-Pilotin Shara Bey. Als eines Tages schließlich eine Gruppe vermeintlicher Schmuggler auf Yavin 4 auftaucht und Poe ein Leben abseits seines störrischen Vaters und der ewig unveränderlichen Langeweile des Mondes in Aussicht stellt, steht seine Entscheidung schnell fest – zumindest bis er realisiert, worauf er sich dabei tatsächlich eingelassen hat ...

Im Gegensatz zur Star Wars Sequel-Trilogie zeigt uns Free Fall einen Poe Dameron, der noch nicht sicher ist, wo genau sein Platz im Universum wirklich liegt. Inspiriert von den Werten und einstigen Taten seiner Eltern, insbesondere seiner Mutter, weiß er vor allem eines: Ein ruhiges Leben als Farmer, in den Fußstapfen seines zunehmend apathischen Vaters, kommt für ihn nicht infrage. Zwischen waghalsigen Flügen in Sharas altem A-Wing, daraus resultierenden Run-ins mit der Civilian Defense Force und einer Serie an scheinbar niemals endenden Konfrontationen mit Kes, sind seine Tage vor allem von einem geprägt: dem Wunsch nach mehr – nach einer Gelegenheit, sich zu beweisen, seine eigenen Abenteuer zu erleben und dem Vermächtnis seiner ebenso abenteuerlustigen Mutter zu folgen.

Der Anschluss an eine Gruppe Schmuggler, die nach einem unglücklichen Zwischenfall passenderweise gerade einen Piloten zu wenig hat, ergibt sich somit wie von selbst – und als klar wird, dass die Schmuggler in Wahrheit Spice Runner sind und doch mehr Dreck am Stecken haben als bloß Diebstahl und den illegalen Transport von im Grunde harmlosen Waren, tut sich für Poe eine Kluft auf: zwischen tief verankerten Werten von Gerechtigkeit und Moralität auf der einen Seite und der unbändigen Sehnsucht nach einem Leben voller Aufregung und Herausforderung auf der anderen. Und natürlich wäre da auch noch Zorii Wynn – die erste Person in Poes Leben, die seine Träume tatsächlich zu verstehen scheint, und sich ihm irgendwann womöglich sogar auf weniger bedenklichen Pfaden anschließen könnte, kann er nur warten, bis sie bereit dazu ist ...

Der interne Monolog und die ständige Frage danach, was Poe für das Leben seiner Träume bereit ist zu opfern, machen die zentralen Themen von Free Fall aus und wurden von Alex Segura nicht nur innerhalb der Story exzellent umgesetzt, sondern fügen sich auch nahtlos in alles ein, was wir aus chronologisch späteren Werken über Poe Dameron wissen. All jene Fans, die nach Der Aufstieg Skywalkers also – wie, zugegeben, auch ich selbst – ein wenig verwundert waren, wie genau sich eine Vergangenheit als Spice Runner mit der Herkunft und Persönlichkeit des eindeutig auf der Seite der Gerechtigkeit stehenden Piloten vereinbaren lässt, werden keinesfalls mit Charakterbruch oder unlogischem Drama zugunsten spannender Stories enttäuscht, sondern können sich auf ein fabelhaft umgesetztes Buch voller Introspektive freuen.

Nicht nur Poe selbst wurde in Free Fall jedoch Tiefgang verpasst, auch den anderen wichtigen Charakteren des Buches wie der aus Episode IX ebenso bekannten Zorii, Poes Vater Kes oder der neu eingeführten Quasi-Antagonistin, der New Republic Security Bureau Agentin Sela Trune. Generell dreht sich in Free Fall alles ums Hin-und-her-gerissen-Sein: Poe zwischen seinen Werten und seinen Wünschen, Zorii zwischen ihrer Loyalität gegenüber den Spice Runnern und der Aussicht auf einen Neubeginn, Kes zwischen den Traumata seiner Vergangenheit und der Liebe zu seinem Sohn, und Sela zwischen ihrer Professionalität und einer persönlich inspirierten Vendetta gegen die Spice Runner von Kijimi.

Poe Dameron: Free Fall reiht sich somit gleich in eine ganze Serie an Genres ein: Jugendroman mit Fokus auf Selbstfindung, introspektive Familiengeschichte, Rache-Story, aber natürlich auch Abenteuer-Roman mit allem, was dazu gehört – von spannenden Weltraumschlachten über Verfolgungsjagden samt Blastergefechten bis hin zu Mord, Verrat und ein wenig Romantik. Und das alles im Star Wars Universum mit Gastauftritt von Babu Frik – viel besser wird es nicht.

Back to the Roots
Origin Stories sind eine ganz eigene Klasse an Geschichten – zum einen weiß man bereits, wo die Reise schlussendlich hinführen wird, zum anderen macht es genau das aber so interessant, zu sehen, wo alles begonnen hat und wie aus einem Charakter das wurde, was wir letztendlich von ihm kennen. Alex Segura erzählt in Poe Dameron: Free Fall auf fabelhafte Weise, wie aus einem rebellischen Teenager mit Drang nach Abenteuer schließlich ein tatsächlicher Rebell im Widerstand gegen die First Order wurde, und das alles verpackt in einer spannenden Selbstfindungs-Story mit Krimi-Flair, die sich in Sachen Introspektive und Emotion keineswegs zurückhält. Wer Poe Dameron und/oder Zorii Bliss schon in den Filmen mochte oder sich einfach eine weitere, exzellent geschriebene Story im Star Wars-Universum wünscht, der ist hier goldrichtig. Hey-hey!
Was this review helpful?
Alex Segura’s Poe Dameron: Free Fall is mainly about Poe learning who he is and being more confident with himself. Becoming the true Poe Dameron we know and love. Segura writes Poe exceptionally well; I could hear Oscar Isaac’s voice in Poe’s dialogue clear as day. And after reading this book, you’ll be shocked at how much sh*t that flyboy went through before joining the New Republic Defense Force. I’ll give you a hint—it’s more than any of us ever thought. 

The book starts off with Poe’s mother, Shara Bey, having died eight years prior. Dedicated Star Wars fans will be familiar with Shara, as she starred in the Marvel comic run Shattered Empire. My familiarity with the character made her absence hit even harder. But not nearly as hard as it has hit the Dameron family—now just Poe and his father Kes, living together in their home on Yavin 4. And unfortunately, their relationship has become very strained in the years since Shara’s death. Poe has taken to flying his mother’s old A-wing to cope, and his father is extremely opposed to this, as Shara died in an accident out in space, alone. Kes is afraid this will happen again with his only son. It’s understandable, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when Poe decides to leave Yavin 4 to find adventure—but mostly just to get away. 

Of course, that leads Poe right to a gang of smugglers affiliated with the Spice Runners of Kijimi. People were understandably upset when it was revealed in The Rise of Skywalker that Poe Dameron—a Latino—had a past as a galactic drug smuggler. It’s a harmful stereotype that Latinos are so often portrayed as, and it’s very obvious that Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams didn’t even think about the repercussions of this decision when they were creating the film. Although there was no way Poe’s criminal past could be completely wiped from canon, Segura did his best to make it clear that Poe joined the Spice Runners of his own free will and that it had nothing to do with his ethnicity. It’s not much, but it’s something. 

Segura delights in playing around in the seedy underworld of the Star Wars universe and it shows. Throughout the story, Poe visits many familiar and new worlds that I hope we haven’t seen the last of. I often have a hard time fully feeling immersed in new planets that authors create, as if they don’t feel quite right in the language of the franchise. But Segura understands the Star Wars galaxy and the types of worlds that inhabit it. Each new planet felt unique but also familiar enough to stand right alongside the most iconic planets in the galaxy far far away. 

Zorii was great in Free Fall, and just like with Poe I could totally hear Kerri Russel’s voice in Zorii’s dialogue. When you first meet her, she goes by Zorii Wynn. And if you’re saying to yourself, “What, I thought her name was Zorii Bliss,” you’re not wrong and everything gets sorted out by the end of the book. Zorii was exactly what I expected her to be in Free Fall—a no-nonsense young woman, focused and dedicated to the job, but not entirely cold-blooded either. She clearly lacks the experience of her older-self in Rise, but both her and Poe end up learning a great deal. And I enjoyed the relationship that the two shared. It felt a little unlikely, them being two very different people. But it was also special and we ended up learning the most about Zorii in her intimate moments with Poe. 

Now to address the topic of representation. As many of you likely know, Poe has been interpreted by many fans as being queer. FinnPoe is one of the most prominent ships of the entire saga (at least according to my Twitter feed). And I myself being gay, I was 100% down for that. Sadly, if The Rise of Skywalker is anything to go by, it’s evident the film side of Lucasfilm is not brave enough to have a character as prominent as Poe be openly gay on the big screen. But Star Wars literature, on the other hand, has been light-years ahead of the other media when it comes to representing LGBTQA+. There has been several queer/nonbinary characters in books that have come out since the reboot, and Free Fall has at least one; an Utapuan member of the Spice Runners named Gen Tri who is only referred to as “they”, “their” and “them” by the narrator and other characters. But let’s be honest, Poe is the character we’re all really looking at here. This book was a great opportunity to have an adolescent Poe discover himself to be more than just a straight male. Rise blew Poe’s potential to be gay out of the water, but his bi/pan-sexuality was still on the table—and it still is. In the book, the most we got was a reference to Poe talking about past relationships and not defining any male or female pronouns. But in my opinion, leaving it that open is pretty much keeping it closed. This would have been the perfect place to make Poe a member of the LGBTQA+ community and give millions of fans a person on screen that they could identify with. If it wasn’t defined here, let’s be real, it never will be.

There are many side characters in Free Fall that make the story richer and more fun. A few I can’t mention because spoilers, but there was one standout; Sela Trune, a young up-in-coming officer in the New Republic Security Bureau. Trune strides onto the scene with pompousness and arrogance, but also a sense of justice and righteousness. Trune’s morals were rather grey, having very personal reasons for chasing down the Spice Runners, and she proved to be something of a wildcard throughout the book. Trune was also our window into the inner workings of the New Republic, which at this point is a little less than sixteen years old and just beginning to turn it’s eyes to the galactic underworld. It’s clear that even this far into the New Republic’s rule, much of the galaxy is still as lawless as ever (if not more). 

I won’t say much about the rest of the book, as there are a few surprises and one pretty big twist that I wouldn’t want to spoil. But Segura was not afraid to get dark, showing just how cruel the members of the underworld could be and how in-over-his-head Poe Dameron really became. 

Whereas I came into Poe Dameron: Free Fall prepared to be fed obligatory backstory made to fit the new information we learned in The Rise of Skywalker, I found myself invested in the story and characters more so than I imagined. Free Fall resonated with me in these uncertain times we’re all experiencing right now. The heartfelt story reminds me that we should appreciate the new friends we’ve made, but also make sure to cherish the friends and family we’ve always had alongside us from the beginning.
Was this review helpful?
Star Wars: Free Fall is a YA Novel written by Alex Segura & published by Disney Lucasfilm Press. This novel explores the history of Poe Dameron, so it takes place several years before The Force Awakens.

SUMMARY:  After the death of his mother, Poe Dameron has a hard time connecting with his father, who prefers to have Poe stick close by and live off the land on the family farm. However, Poe just can’t do it, he has too much of his mother in him (Shara Bey, former pilot), he's desperate to get off Yavin IV and have an adventure. 

A team of smugglers make a pit stop on Yavin IV. As luck would have it, Poe and the gang run into each other at a local bar. Coincidentally, they need a pilot, and Poe desperatly needs a way off Yavin 4. He’s duped into joining the group, who introduced themselves as smugglers. However, smugglers they are not, they are actually the Spice Runners of Kijimi. Smugglers are scoundrles, Spice Runners are also scoundrles, but also... much more dangerous and theiving.

Poe gets involved with the gang, but he is extremely conflicted by his decision to do so and can’t help but think of who he was, is, and who he will become. It's a tale of hope, choices, love, & family. We follow Poe Dameron on his youthful adventure as a Spice Runner of Kijimi and how it shapes him into the man he becomes.

CHARACTERS: There’s a cast of many new characters, but I’m going to mention two that are familiar. 

Poe Dameron: He’s stubborn and has a hard time staying true to himself. He craves adventure more than anything, and sacrifices much to get what he wants... or is it what he really wants?  Poe is the son of veteran Rebel fighters. His mother was A-Wing pilot, Shara Bey. His father, Kes Dameron, had belonged to a ground force unit known as the Pathfinders. Poe is conflicted, he does'nt want to be told what to do or how to live his life. He faces challenges head on and tends to learn the hard way.

Zorii Wynn: That's right I said Zorii Wynn, she goes by a different name at this point in her youth. She's a young gun in the Spice Runners of Kijimi. She has a thing for Poe, but a bigger thing for the lifestyle of the Spice Runners. She's strong willed and knows exactly what she wants. She's prepared for action and ready to strike, whatever the target may be. Zorii's portrayl in this tale explains so much more about who she is in The Rise of Skywalker.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: The book starts off with a bang, a nice intense action sequence! We quickly learn of Poe’s relationship with his father and his hearts desires. The book is action packed, pretty much from start to finish. It does slow down in parts to build on character moments between some of the cast. The book is a YA novel, but sometimes it reads like a junior novel. However, there are elements in the book that are too mature for a junior novel. 

I am a little disappointed overall with the book, some things just didn’t make much sense. The way some characters spoke was a little odd, like what they said was supposed to be smart or comical. Same goes for some of the writing in general. 

For example, “The trio turned to see a group officers shooting first and asking questions later.” It just doesn't make sense, "they saw a them asking questions later?" In the present?

Writing elements were repetitive making the structure predictable. Dialogue, action, thoughts, dialogue, action thoughts, repeat. The writing was nondescriptive, so imagining the story in my head was rather difficult. I don't need everything described and laid out for me, but a little more description would have been beneficial.

It’s succeeds as a fast paced action packed Star Wars tale! 

Hyperspace skipping, this book proves that it’s pretty dumb concept. When the group is in trouble, they decide to hyperspace skip, jump from one dangerous location to the next, with hopes of slowing down their pursuers. Why not just go somewhere far away or just correct the issue while in hyperspace? Maybe the book is confirming that hyperspace is pretty much instantaneous and doesn’t take days to weeks to travel somewhere at great distances? I don’t like that one bit. So for this, I don’t know if it’s author to blame the story group. My bet goes to the story group, because we’ve seen this on film.

The Spice Runners of Kijimi are supposed to be so awesome and dangerous, they don’t really come off as such, becuase I can't recall a single spice running scheme. Yes, there are crazy things the group gets involved in, but seeing what the spice runners actually do isn't a thing we see.

So, do I recommend that you read Poe Dameron Free Fall? I'm going to say yes, especially if you like Poe Dameron and want more backstory on Zorii Bliss. 

RATING: I will give this YA Novel a C+. It wasn't bad, it just take issue with some writing choices. Plus, it's hard to suprise us when we know the outcome of major characters.
Was this review helpful?
I honestly, hand on heart, enjoyed this book a thousand times more than I expected. I was excited about it to begin with, but also a little wary. I’ve been stung before with Star Wars content. This book was not a letdown. It starts with Poe in trouble and I felt immediately like Alex Segura had a really good grasp on Poe’s characterisation and kept it consistent throughout the book. He’s not exactly the same as the Poe we know and love, but that’s a good thing. This Poe is sixteen, inexperienced and desperate for adventure, but I could very clearly see how he would develop into Poe Dameron, Resistance hero. After reading this one, I actually picked up my TROS novelisation and read that and it gave so much depth to the sections with Zorii and Babu and mentions of Poe’s past that I had to stop and think about Free Fall again. I love Poe and have from the start, but this novel gave me a strong and deep connection to a character that didn’t get explored so much in the movie and I loved it.

We also, of course, got our expected firefights and crazy aerial manoeuvres, blaster battles and cameo mentions of famous Star Wars characters but I liked that this was focused on Poe’s story – not one of Jedi and Sith and the Force. I liked the focus on smugglers, criminals and the New Republic instead. The Spice Runners of Kijimi are exactly as horrible and criminal as we’d expect, but their violence is softened a little for the younger Disney audience. This is the first Star Wars YA novel I’ve read where that softness is explained within the text though and justified with Poe’s internal conflict – he wants to be a part of the team but he doesn’t want to hurt people. This was perfect for characterising Poe and also had the benefit of not knocking me out of the realism of the moment. The Spice Runners, and their criminal operations, were a good background for Poe to develop and I felt like we really got to see Poe grow from a boy desperate for any kind of adventure into a man who realises that believing in the cause you’re fighting for is more important than the fight itself.

The real highlight of this book is the relationship between Poe and Zorii. They’re two teenagers growing together, finding companionship around harsh and dangerous adults and learning to be themselves. They teach each other skills and my favourite thing about it was that there were romantic tones to their interactions but ultimately they felt most like teenage friends finding comfort in each other. It explains the complicated relationship when they are reunited in The Rise of Skywalker, as well as the fact that Zorii was fast to anger and fast to forgive.

My full review will be live on my blog at the included link on the 30/07/2020.
Was this review helpful?
The sixteen-year-old Poe Dameron leads a quiet, slow-paced life with his father on the Dameron family farm on Yavin 4. The young man believes that his parent is overprotective. A few years ago the Damerons did lose their loving wife and mother but surely that was no reason to burden the only son with such excessive care?

After another willful act and the conversation that followed, Poe decides to give everything up and run away into the unknown. Yet, to take to the sky, the young man needs a ship. And how fortunate! At a small local port he meets a group of dubious individuals who need urgently to get off the moon. They own a ship, but that’s where the holdup is — the pilot was dead, so there is no one to take the helm. Dameron immediately volunteers to help and does not even suspect what he is getting himself into — in fact, he now is in the company of the galaxy-famous spicerunners from planet Kijimi.

This is the rather simple setup of Alex Segura's novel “Poe Dameron: Free Fall” — a classic teen book story: the main character leaves his family's house and goes looking for adventures. Actually the story of Luke Skywalker begins almost the same way. However, Luke finds himself surrounded by good people and straightaway becomes a hero of the galaxy, while Dameron gets involved in some dark business first.

Poe leaves Yavin 4 almost at the very beginning of the story, and an extremely scant number of pages is devoted to his life on the jungle moon. The book almost instantly leaps to action, but despite this, the first third of the novel still seems very slowly unfolding. By its end, Poe only gets acquainted with the diverse company of spice runners and tries to become their new comrade.

Then the plot thickens: readers get to learn about operations that Dameron participates in and experience many moments that no good read for adolescents can do without: dashing and sometimes dangerous adventures, friendship, love, the first kiss, a touching scene with the father, deception, betrayal, a sense of loss and a new hope…

However, the reader is not always able to fully comprehend the development of the hero — the inner world of the character is often painted only in broad strokes behind which you can not see the depth of his emotions. I'm willing to put it down to the fact that the book is written in the form of a teen novel that does not involve meticulous disclosure of characters. Do I think it would be better to turn this story into a full-fledged “adult” novel? Probably not. After all, a book where the main character is a sixteen-year-old boy should be intended for his peers, not adults.

The author was successful in shaping out the character of young Poe. Here he is, the same dashing guy who is ready to rush headlong into the thick of battle without thinking about the consequences. This is how we saw Poe in “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi”. Only here all of it is multiplied by the pilot’s youthful exuberance and inflexibility, so no one can even talk about his wisdom and reasonableness.

In addition to Poe’s storyline, there is another one telling the readers about a New Republic security officer Sela Trune who has her own scores with spice runners to settle. However, it turns out that Tran’s story is there solely to force Poe Dameron to make a couple of fateful decisions and has no value apart from that.

For me, a long-time reader of “Star Wars” books, it has always been a separate pleasure to search all new stories for references and links to other characters or events in the galaxy far, far away, and here Segura did his best. The book contains plentiful references to various works of both the old Expanded Universe and the new Unified Canon, such as movies, spin-offs, animated and live-action series, computer games, reference books, comics and texts for “Star Wars” role-playing games. And this is not the complete list of products that I found references to in “Free fall”.

Thanks to that, the novel does not seem to be a detached and separate, somewhat torn-off story, but rather a new small flap, firmly sewn into the huge canvas called “Star Wars”.
Was this review helpful?
This was a really good exploration of Poe Dameron's past and the  legacy of his parents. We see Poe as a teenager trying to navigate his future when his father Kes just wants him to stay in place and be safe.
SEgura does a great job catching  the feel of the Star Wars saga and Poe's emotional  landscape.
Was this review helpful?
In the Rise of Skywalker movie, Poe Dameron was aided by a mysterious helmeted female named Zorii Bliss.  With Free Fall, we get the full backstory of their past and why Zorii was willing to help Dameron, even at the risk of her own life. Author Segura did an excellent job of researching and then putting together a history for Poe that makes sense and answers several questions about how he was involved with drug running. The plot does feel a bit episodic in several places so that it can seem formulaic: action, escalated action, escape. Repeat.  But it is an enjoyable read nonetheless.

Story: Poe Dameron is as reckless as his famous rebellion fighter pilot mother; he chafes at a life on the farm in Yavin 4 and longs to take an A wing to the stars.  When his frustration at 16 boils over, he  impulsively agrees to helm the ship of a shady crew who need to leave the planet - one whose last pilot was murdered.  Unfortunately for Poe, he signed on with the notorious drug smugglers the Spice Runners of Kijimi.  But he also finds himself falling for fellow teen drug runner Zorii; a girl with a mysterious past of her own.  

A lot of this story reminds me of Solo: A Star Wars story.  I couldn't get Qira's face away when picturing Zorii (even though she was played by actress Keri Russell in Rise of Skywalker) and Poe seemed like a clone for young Han Solo.  There isn't a lot of Star Wars either - few stormtroopers or Empire/First Order and with the New Republic now the 'bad' guys unable to bring justice and order to the galaxy. It was odd to see the New Republic appear to be  interchangeable with the First Order, each with egotistical and Machiavellian officers.

The plotting is a bit stiff - following the formula I listed above. And the scenes jumped from one action to another with little in the way of segues or downtime. So as soon as one assignment for the smugglers is done, we jump weeks or months to the next one.  It made the plotting a bit clunky as a result.  There were a few twists which were nice to see - none too exciting but enough to make the story more interesting.  But with the twists were also a minor set of logic holes (such as no one questioning how/why a loyal member would suddenly be revealed as a traitor and just not wondering what he/she did).

There is a romance, of sorts, and a lot of conflict in the story is Poe coming to grips with what it would mean to pursue this career of being a smuggler (betrayals, murdering). I appreciated that Zorii was the the stronger of the two, willing to get her hands dirty when Poe would not.  Of course, we cannot have a Star Wars hero with a bad moral compass so Poe isn't going to go out and murder people or put up with others murdering.  

In all, I did enjoy this story.  And it was nice to have a backstory for Zorii Bliss and why she was willing to assist Poe in Rise of Skywalker.  Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
Was this review helpful?
When I choose to read this book, I thought I knew some of Poe Dameron's back story from the Star Wars movies and the comic books, but Alex Segura gave life and made Poe a true hero in this origin story for one of the sequel trilogies characters.  After reading this book, I feel that I appreciate the character of Poe more and a better understanding of the interaction between Zorii Bliss and Poe in the Rise of Skywalker.  I wish this book came out before the movie.  The story is fast-paced enough to keep the reader on the edge of their seat, but still has all the "feels" of a young adult book.  The human connections between Poe and his parents, Poe and Zorii, and Poe and his own understanding of who he is, made Poe come to life off the page and the screen.
Was this review helpful?
I didn't mind the book but was hoping for so much more.  This type of book has always held great interest.  This book was good but fell short of some of the best in Star Wars series.
Was this review helpful?
"I want to thank Netgalley and Disney Publishing for my copy of Poe Dameron: Free Fall in exchange for an honest review.*

Poe Dameron: Free Fall started off strong and never let up! We get an in depth look of Poe's character and see his progression from a teenager eager to strike out on his own to someone who comes into his own and fights for what he thinks is right. We also get to see more of Zorii Bliss's character. She was someone we didn't see too much of in The Rise of Skywalker, and this novel offers the backstory of Poe and Zorii's relationship and how it evolved. I don't want to say much more than that. I will say that Alex Segura did a great job of delving deep into Poe's character. The novel never let up on the action. I would recommend this to any Star Wars fan who wants to learn more about Poe and his early years before he became a Resistance hero. So far August is looking to be a promising month for Star Wars!
Was this review helpful?
Free Fall is a thrilling novel that follows Poe Dameron with the Spice Runners of Kijimi. Author Alex Segura did a great job showcasing the turmoil within Poe, and the challenges he faces as a young adult. With his parents having been remembered as heroes, the expectations put upon Poe's shoulders are overwhelming, as he decides to join up with scoundrels. The relationship between Poe and scoundrel Zorii Bliss is one of the main aspects of the book, as Poe confines with Bliss over similar circumstances. Additionally, the book has numerous references to other Star Wars media that will be appreciated by fans of the more intricate details. Free Fall is a story that seamlessly fills a gap of Poe's story that we've never seen before and is definitely worth picking up when it releases.
Was this review helpful?
If you aren’t yet indulging in the world of Star Wars literature then you’re severely missing out on added layers of storytelling. One character who is getting a lot of layered backstory in this material is everyone’s boyfriend -- the literal poster boy of the Resistance -- Poe Dameron. The latest to add to this ever-expanding canon is author Alex Segura with his book Poe Dameron: Free Fall. Segura is most well-known for his work as a crime and mystery author (Pete Fernandez Miami Mystery novel series). He is also the Co-President of Archie Comics. 

If you are a fan of the Poe Dameron comics and other source material, you can rest easy that it manages to fit in very neatly with Poe’s already established canon (due in no small part to the author doing his homework). 

Note: This review contains a few minor spoilers and details.
 

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

Poe Dameron: Free Fall introduces us to a teenage Poe Dameron -- listless, rebellious, and unfulfilled on Yavin 4. Poe’s father, Kes Dameron, is a sympathetic yet stern, figure. Like all of the relationships in this book, theirs is messy. His father loves him dearly, but is still haunted by the death of his wife and Rebellion hero, Shara Bey. The weight of their shared grief hangs heavy over the Dameron household and she serves as an ever-present figure. 

Sixteen-year-old Poe is -- let’s just say -- prone to making terrible decisions. Desperate to get off Yavin 4, after yet another dangerous stunt followed by an argument with his father, he thought he’d struck gold when he stumbled upon a miscreant crew ever so conveniently in need of a pilot (after the, *ahem*, untimely death of their last one). Cue a young, impulsive Poe Dameron so desperate for a taste of freedom that he quickly finds himself in way over his head. 

“He wanted to explore. To be free and see what was out there on his own terms.”

In between space battles and lightspeed-skipping through the galaxy, Poe Dameron tries to figure out what kind of person he is -- besides being just another “runaway child of the rebellion.” Poe’s heroic tendencies and refusal to leave anyone behind gets him into quite a few sticky situations -- both with the New Republic and his crew. Author Alex Segura doesn’t shy away from the horrors and collateral damage caused by the criminal underground (and make no mistake, the Spice Runners are not the good guys here). He increasingly wrestles with his morals and his fierce protectiveness over his newfound “friends” -- in particular, a girl his age who goes by the name Zorri Wynn.

“‘Those two things can exist at the same time,’ Zorri said. ‘You can love your family and still want to be far from them.’”

Poe feels the most sixteen in the moments where he tentatively stumbles through trying to unpack his complex feelings (do friends hold hands? They sure do, Poe!). The lines between friendship, infatuation, admiration, loyalty, and love are thin at best -- even more so when you’re just a teenager learning how the heck emotions are supposed to work. Zorri, for her part, is a complex character who comes with her own familial baggage, and there are a good number of twists that leave you itching for more.  

Speaking of romance, Poe very noticeably plays the “pronoun game” whenever ruminating on past relationships -- the language used is always gender neutral, leaving that aspect of Poe’s character thankfully still wide open for interpretation. Interesting. 

“He’d cared for people before -- felt the flutter of excitement at something new with someone, only to see it dashed. Hope and romance were never guaranteed in the wilds of the galaxy. Even at sixteen, Poe Dameron knew that.”

Star Wars, in general, is about adventure, family, and the choices we make. It is also about the fact that it is never too late to make the right choice, to help people -- we can always choose to be the better person, no matter how hard. Poe Dameron: Free Fall is an intriguing piece of backstory that found me ready for a sequel. Although this is a book intended for ages 12+, there is enough darkness and layered morality here to make for a juicy read.

Oh, and before you ask: YES, Babu Frik is here and he’s perfect.
Was this review helpful?
This book was a long awaited look into the origins of Poe Dameron! Since his debut in the Star Wars sequel trilogy I have been eagerly waiting on a back story into the famed pilot's life riddled with a checkered past as a spice runner! 

There were so many brilliant connections that were made in this book. From the fame and admiration of his parents who fought alongside Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Leia Organa to the blaster battles and quick ace piloting of the young Poe Dameron as he navigated the galaxy running from competitive spice runners and the New Republic. It was a fun and exciting read that kept my attention throughout the chapters. 

The continual internal struggle of right and wrong played out in relationships and quick decisions for young Poe, a boy becoming a man and making his own path to become a Dameron that the galaxy would not soon forget! With the electric passion between he and Zorii, there was almost a palpable sense of romance and passion between each page. 

I have definitely added this book into one of my "frequently read" collections of Star Wars lore. I am thrilled to recommend this to my friends and hope that they can also value the story of young Poe Dameron and see why he deserves to be among the list of favorite characters and quick witted pilots for current and future Star Wars fans!
Was this review helpful?
"You were a spice runner?" 

JJ Abrams and Chris Terrio wanted to create conflict between the main characters in The Rise of Skywalker and so gave each one a secret they were hiding. For Poe, this meant he now had a shady past as a drug dealer. This proved controversial. Some fans pointed out that the new backstory seemed to contradict other Star Wars stories about Poe Dameron, such as the novel Before the Awakening. Others noted that making the first Latino lead in the franchise a drug runner played into some unfortunate stereotypes. In the film, Finn and Rey seem to quickly forgive and forget Poe's shady past, but Alex Segura's Poe Dameron: Free Fall seems to exist largely to explain this new backstory.

According to the The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary, the official explanation for the apparent "contradiction" with other sources is that Poe Dameron briefly joined the Spice Runners of Kijimi as a teenager, long before he joined the Republic and then Resistance navy. Free Fall covers Poe's entire criminal career (which seems to last about a year).

Secura said he researched the other books and novels about Poe Dameron and integrated them into the novel. His work shows. I especially liked the cameo from L'ulo L'ampar, Poe's longtime friend from the Poe Dameron comics. The Poe Dameron we see in this novel seems to be the same character as the one in those other sources of canon. All this helps make Poe's new backstory feel like less of an awkward retcon and more like a hidden part of Poe's past. 

However, Poe Dameron in Free Fall seems a bit too familiar to the man we know from the films. In the book, Poe is supposedly only 16 years old when he joins the Kijimi Spice Runners. Yet, he's already an ace pilot and pretty confident (although he has a few moments of doubt). He joins the Spice Runners because he longs for adventure, but never really finds himself in a position to compromise his moral integrity. Aside from thwarting attempts by the New Republic Security Bureau to capture the Spice Runners, Poe never commits any truly criminal acts. For all of Finn and Rey's outrage, nothing Poe does is particularly outrageous. He's still a "good guy."

The book is strongest when it comes to Poe's relationship with Zorii Bliss, which receives a lot of attention. This is also when Poe comes across most like a teenager. He clearly lacks the maturity for an adult relationship. While there are some sparks of intimacy, the relationship never approaches the traditional YA romance. In fact, Poe and Zorii's relationship is less about romance and more about two young people trying to find comfort and a sense of belonging. The book helps explain why in The Rise of Skywalker Zorii was both upset enough to kill Poe and yet also quick to overcome her anger. 

I don't think Free Fall is necessarily going to change the mind of anyone who hated the twist in The Rise of Skywalker. As I noted in my review, I certainly didn't love the film. However, I've enjoyed Oscar Isaac's portrayal of Poe Dameron, as well as Charles Soule's Poe Dameron comics, and enjoyed spending more time with the character in Free Fall. At the very least, it helped ameliorate the sense of frustration I initially had with the revelation that Poe was a spice runner. It turns out, the revelation is less about Poe having a shady past and more about him outgrowing the youthful need for "adventure." He learns that cause you're fighting for is far more important than the struggle itself.  

[NOTE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review]
Was this review helpful?