Review of “Lost Stars” (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens) by Claudia Gray

Gray, Claudia. Lost Stars. Los Angeles: Disney/Lucasfilm Press, 2015.

Hardcover | $17.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1484724989 | 551 pages | YA Science Fiction

5 stars

Amid many of the New Canon novel entries, Lost Stars is one I consistently heard praised by Star Wars fans. And despite my continued reluctance to embrace the new material, especially ones that deviated from the central characters in the films, I was intrigued by the premise. And now having finally read it, I will say I am not disappointed.

I like that this story deviates from the traditional light vs. dark narrative to look at the complexities of why someone would be unconditionally loyal to the Empire, as Ciena is, as well as exploring what might make someone change sides, as explored through Thane’s character. And it’s fascinating to see it all from the perspective of two ordinary soldiers, as opposed to people like Anakin/Vader or Luke, Leia, and Han, who all played instrumental roles in the action.

I love how Thane and Ciena are written, getting their insights into key events of the original trilogy, and I think it’s sad but beautiful how they continue to justify their feelings for one another in spite of them being on opposing sides, right up until the final pages. And it was great to have that twist on their personalities with her having misguided faith in what the reader knows is a corrupt political system and having him being jaded and end up working for the Rebellion, when it is far more common for the jaded person to align with the dark side.

This is a wonderful companion piece to the original trilogy, while also, as the series title indicates, providing more connections between the original and new trilogies. Thus, it might not be the best entry point for a new fan to the saga. However, I will concur with other fans that this is definitely a must read for Star Wars fans, especially if they’re looking for something with a tonal shift that explores the moral ambiguity between light and dark.

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Review of “Leia: Princess of Alderaan”(Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi) by Claudia Gray

Gray, Claudia. Leia: Princess of Alderaan. Los Angeles: Disney/Lucasfilm Press, 2017. 

5 stars

I have been a Star Wars fan for years, but, most of my experience beyond the films is with a number of books that have since been re-classified as “Legends” material in favor of the new canon. And while it is understandable that Disney would want to tell their own stories when they bought Lucasfilm, I was hesitant to read some of the books, mostly out of a sense of nostalgia, and not really wanting to read about characters who I didn’t already know from the films, which is what some of the early releases were. However, this is one of the few that interested me when I heard about it, so I took a chance as soon as I could.

And it is well worth the read. Despite having gotten to know Leia through the films, I loved seeing a new side to her, as someone who hasn’t been faced with the realities of the Rebellion and the Empire yet as she is at the beginning of the book. Despite knowing how she would turn out, I loved how authentically Gray captured Leia’s trials on her way to becoming the future leader that we would come to know her as.

I also love the way it ties into the wider Star Wars universe, foreshadowing events yet to come, like her eventual antagonistic relationship with Grand Moff Tarkin through their initial meetings in the book, and also engages in some dramatic irony with the inclusion of the beautiful moment when, Leia, visiting Naboo and dressed in ceremonial clothing similar to the Queens of Naboo, meets Moff Panaka (formerly Captain Panaka in The Phantom Menace), and he is struck by her resemblance to her biological mother, Padme and the fact that her mother would have preferred her falling for a scoundrel, in reference in the context of the story to her honorable love interest, Kier Domadi, but also serving as a wink at the reader to Leia’s eventual romance with Han Solo.

This is a great book, and one I would recommend both to new fans who recently discovered Star Wars and to older fans, especially either of those who really love Leia as a character.