By Josh Melo
Star Wars: Lost Stars – Book Review
Author: Claudia Gray
Providing an all new perspective on the key events of the original trilogy films, Lost Stars is the perfect companion piece to the existing movies as well as, in my humble opinion, THE must read film going into The Force Awakens. More so than any other canon novel released thus far, Lost Stars captures the essence of Star Wars while not relying on nostalgia (though there is a ton of that as well) or obtrusive nods the films. Instead, Claudia Gray crafts a compelling cast of new characters that live alongside established heroes that grant a wholly unique view through the series history.
Following two young Jelucan’s on their journey from wild eyed youths to jaded soldiers, Lost Stars is a tale of love, adventure and hope wrapped in the best possible coming of age story you could come up with. Plus, it reads phenomenally well thanks to Gray’s expert hand.
Claudia Gray writes her characters with the utmost care and never treads into campy or overly conventional territory. Ciena Ree, a first-waver from the mountain planet of Jelucan dreams of flying through the galaxy on the grandest of ships in the Imperial Fleet. Thane Kyrell, a more privileged second wave Jelucan shares those dreams but harbors doubts when it comes to all authority figures. The two meet under tense circumstances and pledge to push each other in order to reach their goals. As the two grow older together their bond transcends friendship, even though the two don’t realize it.
As they get closer and closer to realizing their dreams, despite their strengthening connection, the two find themselves at a crossroads and end up on opposite sides of the war.
Gray manages to avoid writing her characters into generic corners by keeping their relationship fresh and the supporting cast around them engaging. Sure, most of the hurdles the pair has to jump over aren’t completely unique but when put in the context of a galactic war the scope of their struggles take on a much more important feel.
Making something as trivial as a tale of two lovers seem meaningful in a universe full of space ninjas and gargantuan battleships is a monumental task. One that Gray handles with perfection. You really get to know Ciena and Thane, why their paths diverged so drastically and how both sides of the conflict justifies their points of view. It offers a view into the life of an Imperial that the Star Wars universe has yet to cover and you really feel like some of these soldiers on the side of the Empire actually have a reason for being there (outside of being the embodiment of evil).
Watching the second Death Star attack from the dual perspective of an Imperial agent and a Rebel fighter could be gimmicky but Gray implements these new characters so seamlessly I now find myself imagining Ciena and Thane piloting fighters as I re-watch the original films. The way she writes action isn’t something revolutionary but she does a deft job of making you feel like part of the goings on (the aforementioned Death Star sequence and the post Jedi battle of Jakku are phenomenal reads).
There are also a number of cameo appearances from the main players of the original trilogy. Leia pops in a number of times, whether it be a dance number with Thane or an appearance at the Imperial Senate she never feels forced or overused. The same goes for Luke and Han. The feel of Star Wars is here in full force but nostalgia is never used as a crutch. The story and characters support themselves, as they should in any great novel. Even Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin make small appearances making the journey of Thane and Ciena fell all the more real.
As previously stated, this is THE definitive new canon novel and shouldn’t be skipped over due to its YA label. Go out and buy Lost Stars.
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