Jesse Holland re-tells the narrative of The Force Awakens through Finn’s eyes. The book, surprisingly, opens at the ending of Finn’s story in Before the Awakening rather than starting at the beginning of the film. This was really well done as it adds a bit more depth to certain elements of the story.
We’re re-introduced to the FN-Squad, the four stormtroopers who accompanied Finn in the First Order during the events of Before the Awakening. Readers unfamiliar with the book are shown his squad mates and given a bit of their backstory: FN-2000, or Zeroes, FN-2199, or Nines, and FN-2003, or Slip. readers of Before the Awakening will then know that the Stormtrooper Finn faces on Takodana is in face Nines, and the trooper killed on Jakku was Slip
This introduction also gave a synopsis of Finn’s first non-combat mission. Sent to Pressy’s Trumble to settle a labor dispute, Finn’s squad was called upon to murder a group of striking miners rather than come to terms with their demands for better living and working conditions. This is the beginning of Finn’s turn.
The story moves to Jakku. Not only is Finn wary of being forced to kill civilians, but readers also see that the battle took a personal toll on him in terms of losing people he cared about. We also see a moment where Finn and Kylo Ren stare at one another and Finn is terrified that Kylo knows that he has disobeyed orders, but is relieved to find out that Kylo is unaware.
The book moves at a very fast pace which could be expected considering the majority of people have seen the film, multiple times. The story progresses on to Takodana, where after Finn tries to run away with Captain Sidon Ithano and First Mate Quiggold, Finn is drawn back to the battle when he sees the destruction of the Hosnian system. As he returns to the battle, Maz Kanata presents him with Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber to use; he then comes face to face with his former squad mate Nines. Seeing the squad together at the beginning of the book made this encounter have much more emotional weight.
The remainder of the book is again very fast and doesn’t add much more to what is already seen in the film. For what it sets out to do, Finn’s Story succeeds. It’s an abridged re-telling of a great film through the lens of one of the major characters.