Star Wars: Lost Stars | Author: Claudia Gray| Published by Disney Lucasfilm Press | The debut of my Star Wars column “The Road to Episode VII” at Forces of Geek.com
When I first heard that four of the five Star Wars novels that were released on Force Friday were being marketed as Young Adult books, I stereotypically dismissed the idea of reading them due to my fear of pale moody Jedi sparking Sith Lords.
However, one of the books titled Lost Stars has received a lot of praise, with many calling it the best of the new canon novels. I don’t even know why these books were labeled YA.
In its simplest form, the story follows two star-crossed lovers trying to find their place in the universe, all while serving the Empire. The success, misfortune, and bedlam coupled with youth’s intense and raw emotion produced a mature and thought-provoking narrative along with interesting characters that have depth.
The main characters Ciena Ree (pronounced Sigh-EN-nah) and Thane Kyrell, are from opposing social structures on the outer-rim planet of Jelucan.
Ciena’s humble way of life and Thane’s noble upbringing fails to create the usual divide between the two as their love of flying and dream of joining the Imperial Academy creates the strongest of bonds.
While tales of love and compassion are commonplace in the galaxy far, far away, it’s never been the Shakespearean “wherefore art thou, Romeo?”, and more along the lines are the characters finding themselves in each other while embarking an adventure with one another.
The New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray superbly makes this story feel like Star Wars while incorporating familiar moments spanning eight years after the Old Republic’s fall through one year after Episode VI, such as the gunner who almost fired at C3PO and R2D2’s escape pod. Everything came across organically and never felt forced or out of place.
All of the story elements keep building with action, excitement, and despair and never fall into the trap of being formulaic. Even the slightly predictable moments always have a little twist in them. The book’s literary flow is seamless as you never find yourself being taken out of this story that is exquisitely crafted.
Claudia Gray goes from great to near perfection as she takes full advantage of the reader’s emotional investment as you desperately want Ciena and Thane to be together. This is a challenging task considering they are Imperials. In fact, their shared dream of training to serve the Emperor is what made them so close. The Rebel Alliance’s bravery and the tyranny of the Empire are as black and white as it gets.
The idea that there are entire civilizations that love, cherish, and believe in the peace and security of the Empire never enters our minds.
Instead of having a reputation of being a dictator and dark lord, Palpatine’s reputation is more in line with The Pope, where people are honored by his mere presence or even the mention of his name. This could have easily come off as a warped propaganda piece that paints the protagonists in a similar light. Instead, it all comes off naturally where it’s almost easy to see how the Rebels would be seen as terrorists instead of freedom fighters. That ideology wanes to varying degrees in the wake of Alderaan’s destruction as different points of view begin to take shape.
Those who are desperate for clues regarding The Force Awakens will be satisfied as the final chapters provide a snapshot of the galaxy’s political climate after Return of the Jedi. We also discover how the crashed Star Destroyer in the second teaser trailer found its sandy grave on the desert planet of Jakku.
So far, this is my favorite book of the new canon. It’s easy to see the passion Claudia Gray has for this franchise, and we should all hope that this isn’t the last time we see her name grace the cover of a Star Wars novel.