Confession: I didn't particularly like Rogue One when I saw it in theaters. I just didn't care about any of the main characters in it, and I'm not a big enough Star Wars fan to have caught a majority of the references in the movie or recognize names of characters beyond the really big ones like Darth Vader. I knew nothing about this book other than it involved Jyn Erso in some way (I recognized her on the cover). I didn't really plan to read this, but my library got the audio book, and I was looking for one really fast to download. This was the only available book in the section I was browsing that I hadn't read and that wasn't a sequel to something I hadn't read or that wasn't a book I had no intention of ever reading. And I'm glad I ended up picking it.
Rebel Rising managed to do what Rogue One failed to do which is make me care about the main characters. It tells Jyn's story prior to the movie and gave me a better idea of who she is and why. Her story's not a happy one. She was forced to learn how to fight and survive from a young age under the guidance of Saw Gerrera who took her in after her mother was killed and her father joined the enemy. I loved her complex relationship with Saw who became her surrogate father. And I loved Jyn in general and how she kept trying to keep to herself and not care about others for her own sake, but kept caring despite herself, even when it often led to the very pain she was hoping to avoid.
It's a shame this book came out after the movie. I think I would have enjoyed Rogue One if I had read this before seeing it. I would have gone in already caring greatly about one of the main characters.
Even if that would have made the ending hurt more.
This book made me a Jyn fan and has made me consider giving the Rogue One novelization a shot just to see if I do enjoy the story (and Jyn) more.