It’s been over three months since the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and much of the discourse has not surrounded the film itself, but the sheer volume of information that has been pumped out after the fact so that audiences can understand aspects of the story that the movie poorly explained.
The novelization was only officially published a couple of weeks ago, but released excerpts and early convention access have had people talking about it for what feels like longer than the film has actually been available. Among the revelations and clarifications revealed in its pages are confirmation that Palpatine was a clone, Rey’s father was one of his failed clones, Kylo’s final words to Rey, the Reylo kiss not being a romantic one, how Rey was able to teleport her lightsaber to Kylo, and how Palpatine survived his apparent death in Return of the Jedi. With this amount of plot-crucial information and tangential world building details, it’s seeming more than ever that the book was used to rectify the movie’s narrative shortcomings.
The timeline of the novel’s writing is not clear, and even though Rae Carson was announced as its author in October 2019, I can tell you from personal experience that churning out a completed book in two months is a nigh-impossibility – even for wordsmiths whose writing pace far exceeds my own glacial capacity – even if, as in this case, you’ve got the whole story and dialogue mapped out ahead of time. As such, the book was likely still being written (or at least going through the editing process) when the movie was released and audience reactions began coming in, meaning there was plenty of time for Carson to be instructed to make additions that explained all that the film utterly failed do either through incompetence or malice, making it less an expansion of the story and more an exercise in damage control.
By including all the relevant information in an official tie-in, J.J. Abrams was able to pretend that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was everything it was supposed to be and any complaints fans might have is simply a result of their laziness in not seeking out answers.