As a reader of adult fiction, I wasn’t particularly sold when I heard this book would be a YA novel. I haven’t been a reader of YA for years. But I go where the Force takes me. And I can’t lie when I say that I was disappointed after reading Aftermath, the book that was to spark the beginning of the Journey to the Force Awakens. It was simply too fragmented. Not only is Lost Stars the better book, it is the best Star Wars book of the new canon. In my mind this edges just past what we read in Dark Disciple. It’s a book that needs as much praise as it can get. And here’s why.
One of the major reasons I didn’t want to read the book (odd enough) was because it didn’t fit neatly in the timeline, like all the other books. It was unconventional. Different. And on top of that it was a young adult novel, where all the rest were marketed towards adults. But it does fit nicely in the canon, as a sort of companion piece to the original trilogy. It follows the lives of two young Imperial cadets moving up in the ranks, and over time it shows how they begin to see the flaws in the Empire, something that’s really not been done before. We’ve always seen the Empire as a force of purest evil, but here we see how many can misconstrue the Empire as a force for positive change.
The novel begins on the remote outer rim planet Jelucan, where we meet a young Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree. Two children born in vastly different social classes. Together they train to one day join an Imperial Academy, because to them joining the Empire is the highest calling they can receive. Eventually they do head to the academy. They graduate at the top of their class. It’s such a fresh take on the bad guy stigma that the Empire has, to show off a good, innocent side.
It’s interesting the propaganda that we see being fed and how susceptible those brainwashed into believing certain things really are. Scary sometimes, even. This thread is something that is woven very cleverly throughout the novel, and is executed with precision.
What happens to the mental disposition of the individuals who believe the Empire is a force for good when they eventually blow up Alderaan? Do all the Imperials feel that it was a necessary loss? What happens to those Imperials from Alderaan? And how do they view it when their own Death Star gets destroyed shortly after? This inevitably drives Ciena and Thane apart, as their loyalties are put to the test. Thane becomes a Rebel. A terrorist.
And the novel overcomes the hurdle of it being simply a romance novel. It totally works in this narrative. These two star-crossed lovers keep meeting in the most inopportune ways imaginable, on different sides of the Galactic Civil War. And being that the characters expressed in this story are wholly new to the canon, you truly don’t know if they’ll make it through the ensuing conflicts. There are quite a few edge of your seat moments that you really don’t know how they’ll be handled. And always, Claudia Gray handles them amazingly.
Lost Stars spins the entire way I see the original trilogy of Star Wars movies, by giving me a whole new perspective to latch onto, beside the core group of characters. It’s something I didn’t know I ever wanted, but it’s something I highly recommend to all readers and fans of the galaxy far far away. It goes a little beyond the original trilogy as well. It explains why there’s a crashed Imperial Star Destroyer on the landscape of Jakku in the upcoming Force Awakens, for starters. There are subtle mentions and hints thrown throughout the book. We have a Rogue One tie-in mention. We get a great, very personal Mon Mothma scene. It’s just such a great read, all around. Do yourself a favor and get this book. Here’s hoping these characters live on in some fashion – those who make it anyway.