As I got ready to view The Force Awakens for the first time, I started to pick up the books and comics that make up the new canon. The first one I found was Lost Stars by Claudia Gray. The young adult novel deals with 2 children that grow up within the Empire and spans the original trilogy.
Let me preface this by saying I didn’t know it was a young adult novel; it didn’t take anything away from the story, but I think the stigma of YA fiction might have kept me from reading it at first.
The book starts on the planet Jelucan of the Outer Rim, where you meet the 2 stars, Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree, at an Imperial Ceremony; Kyrell is from an aristocratic family while Ree is from the working class side of the things. They end up meeting and get noticed by Grand Moff Tarkin. They become friends and help each other study to become Imperial Naval cadets.
The story moves form Jelucan, to Corusant at the Academy, to them splitting up in different areas. Kyrell becomes a TIE Fighter pilot on the new battlestation, the Deathstar, while Ree is assigned to the Star Destoryer Devastator. For me, this is where things became really interesting. Gray interwove the two into the existing story we know. We get the reaction of the characters when Alderaan is destoried. We see the reaction to the destruction of the Death Star.
Kyrell eventually defects to the Rebel Alliance after seeing many of the wrongs that the Empire is committing. It leads to a few confrontations between the two before they end up together in the end; I’d say more, but I don’t want to give away many of the details of the book.
There are definitely YA aspects to the story, like the impending love between kids from opposite sides of the track. It was cliche, but worked.
The most enjoyable part for me was seeing a different side of what we know. Through the original trilogy, we see the Rebels side of the story – the struggle with the Empire and how they are fighting oppression. This book shows more of the Empire side; how the destruction of Alderaan impacted Imperials from the planet, how a group of desenters killed their friends and comrades on the Death Star, and how they feel like they are trying to keep order in the universe.
The story also set up aspects of The Force Awakens, as the climax is part of the Battle of Jaaku and explains the crashed Star Destroyer on the planet. It’s not required reading to see Episode 7, but it’s a nice addition to the back story.
The book could be open to sequels, with the ending seeming wide open. Gray did a good job of building both the main characters and the supporting ones. I look forward to her next Star Wars novel, Bloodlines, which takes place between Episodes 6 and 7.
Rating: 4 out of 5. It’s a solid book that shouldn’t be judge on the YA notation. It’s a nice addition to the new Star Wars canon.