Book Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary and Incredible Cross-Sections

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From the behind-the-scenes look at the film’s creative development in The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Abrams Books, we now dive into the Visual Dictionary and Incredible Cross-Sections movie companion guides for a more detailed look at the characters, vehicles, and worlds that blew moviegoers away on the big screen.

Both hardcover books come from the fine visual guide purveyors at DK, publisher of such other gorgeous Star Wars books as Ultimate Star Wars Encyclopedia, LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes, and LEGO Star Wars: Small Scenes from a Big Galaxy.

The Visual Dictionary is the quintessential companion guide to the movie, featuring data profiles and high-res images for the characters (including droids, aliens, and creatures) and locations from the film presented in a concise but detailed format that is approachable for younger readers yet still captivating enough for grown-ups.

Though only 80 pages, the book highlights pretty much every character, from star newcomers like Poe, Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, and BB-8, to returning original trilogy icons like Han Solo, Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2, to supporting characters like Lor San Tekka, Captain Phasma, General Hux, and Maz Kanata, to general figures such as TIE Fighter Pilots, Resistance Commanders, and the different types of Stormtroopers. The only major players that don’t appear visually and are merely referenced within other profiles are Supreme Leader Snoke and Luke Skywalker.

Each entry includes a general synopsis of the character’s background story, as well as accompanying information about weapons and vehicles, whether it’s Kylo’s signature lightsaber and helmet, Rey’s quarterstaff and speeder, or Chewie’s bowcaster. The text is further supplemented by movie scene stills and character and prop photos, and the images are further described via call-out labels that offer additional tidbits about costume design elements and the individual components to weapons and vehicles.

Whereas the Visual Dictionary covers the expanse of The Force Awakens plot, Incredible Cross-Sections is an art book dedicated to celebrating the movie’s spectacular vehicle technology. A total of 12 vehicles–Stormtrooper Transport, Poe’s X-Wing, Command Shuttle, Finalizer, Rey’s Speeder, TIE Fighter, SF TIE Fighter, Quadjumper, Millennium Falcon, Han’s Freighter, Resistance Transport, and Snow Speeder–are highlighted in exquisite detail thanks to the glorious illustrations of artist Kemp Remillard. As the book title indicates, the artwork consists of cross-section “cut-away” illustrations that dissect the vehicles to reveal their technological inner workings. The exhaustive attention to every last detail is impressive, and it’s just amazing to get a glimpse underneath the hoods of some of science-fiction’s most iconic rides.

Each vehicle graphic is captioned, labeled, and accompanied by a data file box that lists out key facts such as manufacturer, model and class type, length, crew capacity, affiliation, and on-board weapons capabilities. What’s also really cool is the way Kemp Remillard worked the characters into the vehicle art to stage little action figure-like scenes and an overall sense of activity and depth so you aren’t merely looking at a bunch of static engine components and mechanical gizmos. For instance, if you look closely at the Millennium Falcon you can spot Han and Rey in the cockpit, Finn tending to a wounded Chewie in the bunk area, and BB-8 roaming the cockpit access tunnel. For me, each image became a Where’s Waldo? search to spot the different characters and other little details.

Another neat touch is the size comparison chart presented at the back of the book, which shows all of the vehicles next to each other so you can get a clearer idea of how they relate in terms of scale. To see just how dwarfing the Finalizer is compared to the other vehicles is a sight to behold. And I suppose it’s only fitting that the Finalizer’s main cross-section illustration actually spans a four-page spread whereas every other vehicle fits on two pages.

DK’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens visual guides may be small in page count–the Visual Dictionary is 80 pages, while Incredible Cross-Sections doesn’t even crack 50 pages–but their oversized hardcover formatting and excellent image quality serve up fan service in a larger than life fashion that fully captures the sheer breadth and density of the Star Wars universe. Better yet, both are damn near bargain-bin cheap, listed at $19.99 but readily available from Amazon and other online retailers for even less than that. Do yourself a favor, Star Wars fans, and add these bookshelf beauties to your collection.

Below are individual galleries of personal photos I took for each book.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary:
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Incredible Cross-Sections:
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Disclosure: Copies of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary and Star Wars: The Force Awakens Incredible Cross-Sections were provided to VGBlogger.com for review by DK Publishing.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!