Journey to The Force Awakens: A Review of Lost Stars

Growing up as a Star Wars fan, I’ve read a large number of the novels that were once called the Expanded Universe. I would read between one and three of these novels a week in school, and have some fond memories of our favorite characters.

Now that the EU is listed as “Legends,” and a new Canon is starting, I thought I should take a look at see what it has to offer. While waiting for a copy of Aftermath to arrive at the library (and not liking the bad reviews I’m seeing), I decided to pick up a copy of the novel Lost Stars as soon as it was processed.

It hit my desk, so it's mine!
It hit my desk, so it’s mine!

==The Pitch==

This novel tells the story of Thane and Ciena, two kids from the planet Jelucan who attend the Imperial Academy and, eventually, find themselves on opposing sides of the war, yet still find themselves in love with one another.

==What I Experienced==

The book checks in an more than 550 pages, making this a bit of a beast at first, but larger print makes this a breeze to read.

Prior to this, I never read anything by the author, Claudia Gray, and I must say that I am impressed. I’m hoping they keep her for further books of the series. While she’s no Timothy Zahn (who probably wrote some of the best Star Wars novels, in my opinion), she has a sharp, fast-paced writing style that is easy to follow and a pleasure to read.

Without spoilers: you see a story of two children brought together by their love of flying and the goal of flying ships with the Empire. They fall in love, won’t admit to it, join opposing sides of the war after Alderaan, and find themselves against each other from time to time during the war.

I started reading the book during my dinner break on a Monday. By Thursday, I was down to the last bit of it, with my only times reading being my dinner break, while eating a short lunch before work, doing laundry one morning, and a short pause while tea was brewing. It really does move quickly, and I consumed it ravenously.

==The Good==

The book spans the gamut from post Revenge of the Sith all the way to a year and a month beyond Return of the Jedi. That along makes it worthwhile.

If you are a fan of the universe and need ideas for things, it’s worth reading as you see details from within both the Empire and the Rebellion throughout the war. This has given me quite the idea fodder for running Star Wars games.

This doesn’t focus on the old cast. While this may turn some people away, it makes sense. Everyone from the films gets mentioned multiple times, even if it’s just in passing, and the focus remains on our two star-crossed lovers. I found this rather refreshing instead of finding ways to bring people in and making it feel a bit shoe-horned.
For example, in the older novels, Luke, Han, Leia, or someone directly tied to them (an assistant, apprentice, or enemy) would show up without fail, almost as though it was required to lend credibility to the tale. It’s nice seeing that a pilot doesn’t need Luke’s blessing to continue being awesome.

In fact, the ONLY character that uses the Force and has “screen time” in this book is Darth Vader (with a quick appearance by Palpatine). That’s it. Not a single lightsaber was ignited or an object moved without being touched during the length of this book.

If you’ve been paying attention to the trailers and a number of the small things, you will know that there’s a Star Destroyer that crashed on the planet Jakku. This book explains why a ship as big as a Star Destroyer crashed on a planet this insignificant, and does so in a properly dramatic way.

==The Bad==

I wish there were a bit more DETAILS in this. Yes, it’s a fast read, but I felt that almost everything that wasn’t a named character was nondescript or faceless most of the time, and some of the things that were named had glossed over details. While I’m not expecting Tolkien or James-level of details, having a bit more would be helpful.

While it is a Young Adult book, I found some phrases to be a bit too simple and redundant, like the talk of TIE pilot helmets/armor looking bad-assed, for example.

The book did leave a few things unanswered (but hopefully resolved in the movie or a later book), and ended on a not quite cliffhanger, but not quite clean ending. I won’t spoil it (because there’s quite a bit to spoil), but it seems as though some characters were left just hanging there, dangling for a better closing.

==The Verdict==

If you enjoy Star Wars novels, a casual read that you won’t want to put down, and want to see a book that gives some insight as to both sides of the Galactic Civil War, you should pick this up.

The only people who should avoid this are people who aren’t Star Wars fans (but this may get them into it, honestly) or don’t like reading. Oh, and anyone who thinks it’s “too lowbrow” due to being a YA book will probably want to give it a pass (but, as a librarian, you have my full permission to read this YA book).

Star Wars: Lost Stars is part of the Journey to The Force Awakens part of the Star Wars novels series. It is written by Claudia Grey and can be purchased at just about any book store or found in your local library.

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