In my previous post, I mentioned a complaint with Episode 7: It feels cut off from the rest of the Star Wars galaxy and leaves a lot of unanswered questions. As expected, new novels are beginning to fill in some of those gaps. Take, for instance, Before the Awakening.
This book presents three new long stories, one for each of the characters pictured on the cover. Finn's tale presents a glimpse into his training as a stormtrooper, as well as into other activities of the First Order. It gives hints into the unusual qualities that cause him to make the decision in the film that draws him into the action. Rey's story shows more of what life is like for her on Jakku, but suffers from the fact that one pretty much knows how it's going to end. Of them all, Poe's tale is my favorite. It includes details from his life growing up on Yavin IV (tying in nicely to the Shattered Empire comics), as well as how he moved from the New Republic to the Resistance--and clarifies some of those organizations' relationships with each other. It also presents a rousing adventure, and one that helps clarify the picture of what RPG scenarios in this time period might look like.
All in all, I recommend the book for a good, quick read.