I mostly lurk anyway, and will go right back to it after since I'm more of the "I hope Adam Driver doesn't get back problems from carrying the weight of this trilogy" variety, but as a movie itself, I think it had some good ideas but didn't really follow through on them. (The consequence of trying to appeal to everybody, rather than writing for the good of the story, being the constant backpedaling/half-measures so as not to step on any toes, then nothing reaches its potential.) I think they should've started Ben's redemption earlier, I remember sitting there feeling like I was suddenly watching a different movie. It's like the movie simultaneously dragged on and was rushed with an ending that had no time to let the emotional weight of anything settle. They were just scrambling to get the characters to where they needed to be at the end.
But as I love all things Han Solo, naturally my favorite scene was Ben imagining talking to him again. How it acted as a callback to TFA when killing Han, instead of cementing Ben's allegiance to the dark side, it tore him up more than ever, now it acted as the final push for Ben to drop the Kylo Ren persona once and for all. And I think that's how I have to treat these movies, enjoy the moments I liked, and take each movie for what it is, rather than hoping for a consistent whole. Because as a followup to TLJ, TRoS doesn't really work just as, as a followup to TFA, TLJ doesn't really work. It's like no one could agree on the story this trilogy was trying to tell.
As for the novelization, I'm not bothered by the use of "gratitude" but I am annoyed at how both sides seem fixated on the word without bothering to look at what it was for in the context of the whole quote: "A kiss of gratitude, acknowledgement of their connection, celebration that they'd found each other at last" (also that the paragraph came from Ben's POV). Gratitude doesn't negate love but neither should everything have to be explicitly spelled out, there's room for interpretation. It also seems to give context to Rey not seeming to mourn him because just after he dies, she hears Ben's voice saying "I will be always be with you" and she whispers to herself "No one's ever really gone."
The Palpatine thing though - UGH. He's a clone, Rey's his granddaughter but her father was also one of those clones (which wouldn't that make Rey his daughter?! Or his clone self's daughter?!)... I don't know, the more they seem to try to justify it, the worse I think they make it. I'm with Elijah Wood on that one, it needs to stop. I do find it curious though, per the novelization, that apparently it was that Leia wanted the Skywalker legacy to live on through Rey, the Solo legacy to live on through Ben, and the Organa legacy to live on through Poe. Sadly I feel like new footage with Carrie Fisher was needed for that to work.