The canon has been reset and Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars is a great re-entry for long time fans of a galaxy far far away…
REACH FOR THE STARS
Lost Stars is a unique novel in the fact that its timeline spreads across different eras in Star Wars lore. The story centers on two young Imperial Cadets named Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree. The two grow up together in hopes of not only joining the Galactic Empire, but having a career and getting away from their home world of Jelucan.
Author Claudia Gray does a masterful job of jumping back and forth between both lead characters and their perspectives and feelings towards each other. The book is over 500 pages and seems daunting at first, but after reading 50 pages, I knew I was going to fly through the story. The flow is phenomenal and because of that, I found it near impossible to put it down.
Whether in past canon or present, rarely have we gone behind the scenes of the Empire in such a way. Sure, we have had our novels that deal with Darth Vader or even pre-Empire through characters like Darth Maul, but not so much like this. Here, we see a new “point of view,” if you will. In living vicariously through Ciena and Ree, we see what the propaganda of the Empire did to the planets it was over-taking, giving a false sense of security and opportunity while taking the stance that they were the galaxy’s savior.
Grand Moff Tarkin is a celebrity. Emperor Palpatine is seen as a virtuous, spiritual leader. It is fascinating to see the opposing view. In fact, it’s not until later on in the story’s events that our cadets even know what Palpatine truly looks like, having only seen the non-deformed, slightly more youthful Emperor we saw in the Clone Wars era in Empire propaganda. The Death Star was seen as a peace-keeping deterrent, not a super weapon capable of blowing up an entire planet. It all comes full circle with regards to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s theme of point of view from the original trilogy.
With that point of view, we also see a change of heart from the inside. Inevitably, one cadet remains an Imperial, one becomes a Rebel. This makes for a fascinating dynamic. The story is truly meant for seasoned Star Wars fans, as it references many famous events heavily based on the original Trilogy of films. From just after the collapse of the Republic, to the Battle of Yavin, even to tying in The Force Awakens in a small manner that explains that gigantic Star Destroyer in the sands of Jakku, it is seriously a geek-out kind of cool in rewatching Episodes IV-VII and being thinking “I totally know the name of that Star Destroyer!” or “I wonder if I can kind of see Cienna in the crowd on the Death Star!”
The story is up close and deeply personal, even to the point of getting to know an Imperial who watched in devastation as his home planet of Alderaan was destroyed. Watching the mindset of the main group of characters makes me happy that Luke Skywalker never got his chance to attend the Imperial Academy (thanks Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru!). Still, I can’t help but wonder if Luke would have gone the way of Cienna or take the path of Thane. My belief is that he would have mirrored Thane, but that’s just me and my optimistic delusions of grandeur.
It might sound knit picky, but this is a review and I am a critic – I felt the few references to Ciena’s & Thane’s physical romantic relationship were overall poorly written. At times, the book strayed into romance novel territory, if only slightly. Also, the end of the book is somewhat anti-climactic, but I can somewhat justify it. There was no clear-cut “here’s where they go from here” feeling, as if the last few chapters had been lopped off. On the flip side of that, the book’s pace is go go go from the beginning, jumping from era to era; this could have been open ended for a reason.
Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars had me glued to the page from beginning to end, providing a smooth read with loads of Star Wars nods that long time fans will appreciate. It is a story set behind the broader picture of some of the galaxy’s major events, something that we don’t always see in Star Wars novels. My recommendation? Go get this – what are you waiting for?
+ Phenomenal pacing
+ Lots of relevant recognizable characters, planets, and events from the original films and TFA
+ Gives even more depth to a universe in which every individual has a story and a purpose
– Ending is anticlimactic
Josiah LeRoy is The Geekiverse’s resident Star Wars expert. Read this book and then chat with him about it on Twitter.
Be sure to keep up with The Geekiverse on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram. Watch The Geekiverse Show on YouTube and listen to The Geekiverse Podcast on iTunes today.