Saturday, October 31, 2015

Star Wars Lost Stars Book Review: It’s all from a Certain Point of View

Romeo and Juliet for the Star Wars universe. The book isn’t quite as tragic, but it has elements of star crossed lovers. Above all else this book feels like Star Wars. It captures what is the essence of the Star Wars universe. Author Claudia Gray weaves a magical masterpiece through the events of the original trilogy. She is able to give a fresh and different perspective on what happens during this time. I can’t help but marvel at how she introduced two new characters into the Star Wars universe and placed them effortlessly into all of the major aspects of the original movies.
The story starts with two kids on an outer rim world who come from vastly different backgrounds. Ciena comes from a lower income segment of society on the world Jelucan whose traditions are steeped with honor and loyalty. She dreams of making her family proud by becoming a pilot in the Empire. Thane on the other hand comes from the upper crust of Jelucan society. All he dreams about is escaping from his abusive parents and getting as far away from them as possible. The Imperial Academy offers both of them this opportunity. They befriend each other at a young age and work together to get off the planet and become Imperial Officers.
The story takes them through their time at the Imperial academy, The Battle of Yavin, Hoth, Endor and one new battle. What’s fantastic about the story is how Gray is able to switch the perspective to the Imperial point of view. Ciena has nothing but praise for the Empire. They gave her Mother a higher paying job and afforded her the opportunity to make something of herself. She pledged an oath to the Empire and has to keep it. The Rebels through her eyes are nothing but terrorists. Ciena has friends on the Death Star when the Rebels destroy it, which cements her hatred for the Rebellion. She is blinded to the Empires evils for a long time not wanting to believe the stories, or just simply not knowing about them. She even finds ways to justify the destruction of Alderaan. They aren’t great justifications and she sees the evilness behind the Death Star and “thinks” the Empire will have learned its lesson after the first was destroyed.
Thane on the other hand is more of a cynic. He sees the corruption of the Empire at every turn. He just accepts that all forms of government are going to be corrupt. He would rather serve and do something that he loves than worry about the overall politics of what he is doing. Gray presents and excellent character study about the people who serve a totalitarian regime. Not everyone living under or serving for that regime would be evil. Not everyone who served in the German army was a Nazi, but I’m sure many saw things they did not agree with and still did not act. Is this right? No, but it can at least be understood.  Thane sees enough of the Empire to know he can’t serve with a clean conscious and leaves the Empire. He eventually finds his way to the Rebellion and our two heroes must fight against each other.
This is where the star crossed lover aspect of the story comes into play. Both Thane and Ciera have been attached to each other since they were children. They were close friends which blossomed into a passionate romance. They love one another and have a strong connection because of their deep friendship. I don’t mind a love story when it’s done well (Empire’s Strikes back good: Clone Wars very very bad). This love story is excellent and very believable. We care about each of these characters and want to see them together. Gray paints a picture were both characters are justified in their decisions they make because of who they are. They want to be together, but have opposite ideals about what each is fighting for. She did a fantastic job of fitting this story into the current framework of the galaxy far far away.
The only extremely small nitpick I have of the book is the way Thane reacts to Luke Skywalker. Thane acts jealous of the hero of Yavin. This is the only aspect were I think Thane acts out of character. I don’t think Thane would act jealous, I think Thane would be Luke’s friend. He would want to pick his brain. I understand Thane lost friends on the Death Star, but he also understood the necessity in destroying it. Maybe he still couldn’t get over Luke being the instrument who destroyed the Death Star.  I just found the jealous aspect out of character. I’m guessing Gray might not have been allowed to use Luke in her story, and had to find a way to mention him without any direct interaction with Thane. This would make more since than how Thane acts in the book anytime he hears Luke’s name.
Noting else negatively sticks out in the book for me. We get some great tidbits about things we have already seen in Force Awakens footage, and a great story to go along with it. I did not hate Aftermath as much as others, but I still didn’t love it. The first half of that book was hard to get through. This is not the case with Lost Stars. It was engrossing from the first few pages. Claudia Gray wrote an excellent addition to the New Cannon and it is my favorite of anything published to date. Lords of the Sith was great, this was just a bit better. If you have not picked this book up and you are a Star Wars fan this is a must read. If you are picking and choosing sparingly from the new cannon this is a must. Personally three things have been essential reading from the new cannon. Lost Stars, Shattered Empire (comic book) and Lords of the Sith. Other things have been great, but these are the gold standard for now.

Let me know what you think if you have finished Lost Stars. Do you think my list of essintal new cannon reading material is right? What did I miss?  Comment, like, share, and all that other fun jazz. Thanks for reading. 

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