Free Fall by Alex Segura

Poe: Dameron: Free Fall is a new origin story for Poe. Before this, we knew he was a pilot for the New Republic, that he joined up with the Resistance and flew for Black Squadron. But The Rise of Skywalker revealed a past life for Poe that we knew nothing about. He wasn’t just a pilot, he was a spice runner. As an enjoyable little read, Free Fall explores that little tidbit revealed in the movie and how he and Zorii Bliss once knew each other.

The story starts off with a 16 year old Poe Dameron zooming through the skies of Yavin IV and getting in big trouble with the local authorities for his disregard of air traffic laws. If you’ve read the comic Shattered Empire, then you know Poe’s parents are heroes of the Rebellion. His father, Kes Dameron was a Pathfinder, and his mom, Shara Bey, was an A-wing pilot. The book starts off with his mom already dead and Poe and his father being in a very estranged relationship. His dad won’t speak of Shara because it hurts him too much, and he won’t let his son fly or leave. It puts Poe in a very defiant state and eager to leave at any opportunity. Even if it means joining up with some smugglers or space pirates to get away. Enter Zorii Bliss.

Now the book makes a big deal out of giving Zorii a different name at the beginning of the book, so don’t let that confuse you. It’s still the same character from the movie. Zorii is about the same age as Poe, but her background is a bit different. Whereas Poe wants to fly, Zorii wants to be a great pirate. She’s a member of an up and coming pirate gang called the Spice Runners of Kijimi. So you see, when Poe says he’s a “Spice Runner,” it’s a bit more than a line of work. He was actually affiliated with one of the most feared and fearsome gangs in the galaxy. Through the book, it explores about a year of Poe’s life with the gang and Zorii. We get a good idea of how far he’s willing to blur his morals in order to have adventure and to get to know Zorii better. The book explores different worlds and criminal gangs as the Spice Runners go off on missions. Poe gets close to some of the pirates, especially Zorii. Yet in the end, there’s the parting of ways. All in all, it’s a fun story that helps shed more light on these characters.

It’s not exactly a great story, though. It’s fun and has some great moments, but there’s also times where the book almost feels like fan fiction instead of a professionally written story. Sometimes it’s little things like introducing too many aliens and too many details on characters instead of slowly revealing the info over time, like with Poe’s spice gang. Other things have to do with how the plot points are developed or forced upon the reader. For instance, Poe’s relationship with his father is just given to us rather than feeling like a natural and understandable thing. Even his jaunt into space which gets him into trouble isn’t really explained. We know the authorities threatened to shoot him down, but it’s not made clear why they would make such a threat to a sixteen year old boy who they were really familiar with. The ending relationship with Poe and Zorii was another thing I had an issue with as it felt more forced and not fully developed or natural. Those flaws with the storytelling hurt the story, but not so much as to make the book not worth reading.

On the flip side, there’s some fun stuff in the book. Babu Frik gets a couple scenes, one of them is really hilarious. The book actually explains what hyperspace skipping is and it actually makes sense, which was a nice bonus as the novelization skipped out on that. There’s a lot flying in the book since the pirates hire Poe on as a pilot. The interesting thing is that this is a very young Poe, so he doesn’t have much experience flying. Seeing him pushed to the limit in this book with his flying skills reveals that one of his real talents is coming up with plans in the spur of the moment, whether they’re good or bad. Plus it’s just cool to see this backstory for Poe and Zorii as it puts The Rise of Skywalker in a little different light.

Overall, I give Free Fall a three out of five metal bikinis. It’s a fun read and explores some interesting things, but it definitely could have been better. If you really want to know more about Poe and Zorii, it’s worth checking out.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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