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Rey and Kylo’s Kiss Wasn’t Romantic? Sure, Star Wars

Uh huh....

Rey and Kylo Ren in 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

For a lot of fans, The Rise of Skywalker lacked many bright spots. But one surprising moment was the tender kiss between Rey and Ben Solo that happened in the moments between him using the force to save her and him, well, dying because of that. Love it or hate it, it was significant to the story. It was a moment that seemed to confirm the romantic nature of the mysterious bond between Rey and Ben throughout the trilogy, but a new novelization of the movie by Rae Carson seems to think otherwise.

Copies of the novelization of The Rise of Skywalker began circulating at the C2E2 convention in Chicago, and the passages from the book describing the kiss have drawn some raised eyebrows from fans, to say the least.

“His heart was full as Rey reached for his face, let her fingers linger against his cheek. And then, wonder of wonders, she leaned forward and kissed him. A kiss of gratitude, acknowledgement of their connection, celebration that they’d found each other at last.

But then she drew back, concern on her face. She could feel him growing cold.

Ben smiled at her.

He had given Rey back to the galaxy. It wouldn’t atone for the darkness he’d wrought, but it was what he could do.

This excerpt is from a larger section of the book posted on twitter.

A kiss of gratitude. Um … sure. That’s how it came across. I totally kiss all my friends like that, on the mouth, when they do something nice for me. Especially friends that I’ve ogled and had a weirdly intense bond with that defied the distance of space and laws of the universe. Completely normal.

Though it’s sort of hard to tell whose point of view the offending passage is written from, I think it’s supposed to be Ben we’re sharing headspace with, so we don’t actually know what Rey is thinking here, just how Ben perceived it … but it also doesn’t matter. Except that a lot of headlines and tweets are now claiming that this “confirms” from Star Wars that the kiss was just platonic.

While I’m sure that there are lots of folks out there that will use this novelization as ammunition for ship wars that will apparently never end, I don’t think anyone needs to put much stock into one person’s novelized version of the film. Fiction is great because it is whatever you want it to be.

Do you want to see Rey and Ben as in love! Cool! They’re in love! Do you want to deem the big kiss a sign of gratitude and connection that was still platonic? Fine! That’s that. There is no right answer here and that’s the great thing about stories. They are what we want them to be.

Personally? I thought it was pretty clearly intended to be seen as romantic and, even though I was never a big Reylo shipper, I liked the moment and thought Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley really elevated it to something special. If you’d rather believe in the more dispassionate and friendly version in this novelization though—that’s fine. Neither of us is “right,” we’re just seeing fiction in different, subjective ways.

If this novel pisses you off, don’t worry. It’s just one piece of fanfiction that got published by the studio and there are thousands of other (and probably better) works out there that are super romantic (and where everyone lives too!). And they’re all just as valid. So ship your ship and may the force be with you.

(via ScreenRant, image: Disney/LucasFilm)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.