NOTE: This review contains (possibly) one spoiler, not a major one, for The Force Awakens. Nothing of the movie’s plot or characters are revealed, just a tiny tidbit of information. Also, for anyone wondering, this book is canon within the Star Wars Universe.
Title: Lost Stars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press
Release Date: September 4th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Space Opera, Romance, Media Tie-in
The reign of the Galactic Empire has reached the Outer Rim planet of Jelucan, where aristocratic Thane Kyrell and rural villager Ciena Ree bond over their love of flying. Enrolling at the Imperial Academy is nothing less than a dream come true for both of them. But Thane sours on the dream when he sees firsthand the horrific tactics the Empire uses to maintain its ironclad rule.
Bitter and disillusioned, he joins the fledgling Rebellion−putting Ciena in an unbearable position between her loyalty to the Empire and her love for the man she’s known since childhood.
Now on opposite sides of the war, will these friends turned foe find a way to be together, or will duty tear them−and the galaxy−apart?
My First Thoughts:
I remember reading Star Wars books when I was younger, especially the ones after the original trilogy, and loving them. With the upcoming movie, I wanted to get into the mood of Star Wars and saw this book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble. One thing led to another, and the book ended up on my reading list, especially since it’s supposed to have hints and tidbits about The Force Awakens.
After seeing the movie, I would like to say that this book doesn’t really give a whole lot to the newest Star Wars movie. Out of the 551 pages, maybe the last 100 or so was actually set after the original trilogy, and probably thirty of those pages hinted at something in the movie. Spoiler: The book hints at something you see in the background and mentions the planet that the movie starts at. Yea, that’s it.
While the book doesn’t really give away anything pertaining to the characters or the story in the newest movie, it was still a pretty entertaining book. Lost Stars felt very much like Romeo and Juliet. No, seriously, the book smashes the Star-Crossed Lovers peg into the wall because the author beats the theme to death with an inflatable hammer. I’m not saying that the Romeo and Juliet theme was badly written; in fact, I rather enjoyed it at times. However, sometimes the book overplayed the theme, especially when it came to the angst.
Honestly, there was enough angst in this book that the pages were practically dripping with it, and if I flicked the book, angst would spatter everywhere. After a point in the book, it was almost always, ‘Oh, I can’t believe Ciena/Thane could do that! Oh, it makes me so mad; are they crazy?’ A handful of pages later, the lovers would fight it out and realize that they didn’t know each other quite as well as they thought, and then they would make up. Don’t get me wrong, their spats were amusing for a while, but after the fifth squabble, you would think that they would know each other well enough to understand the other’s actions. But other than the angst and love/hate relationship they had, Ciena and Thane had a decent romance. Their love for each other didn’t bloom overnight and it took them years to become attracted to each other, and even then it took some time before they acted on that attraction.
As for the characters themselves, it was a pretty interesting cast. I enjoyed Ciena as being a main character and a character of color. Her skin color wasn’t mentioned often, but subtly here and there, not like some books where they practically beat up the reader with the detail. It was also interesting to read about a female character that sided with the ‘bad side’ for all the right reasons. Usually, it’s the female character to break away from the evil and the male character to be disillusioned. As a whole, Ciena was pretty cool. She was talented and had an insane sense of honor that I resonated with to some degree, until her honor and loyalty got to be a bit too much, but that’s just my opinion. Thane was a pretty neat character too, though his reactions to some things were a little much. His teenage self was too much of a drama queen for my taste, but his character gets better with age, like fine wine. Honestly, I don’t have much to say about Thane. He was a standard male character that was pretty cynical in the beginning but got less so as the war went on.
For the rest of the cast, the minor characters were pretty fun and some of them got quite exotic. The characters were an interesting mixture that helped diversify the original trilogy. What do I mean? If you ever notice in the movies, all the background characters in the Empire and most of the Rebels are white males. The book, however, features many characters of different gender, skin color, and species, even in the Empire, which was a bit weird at first, but in a good way.
For most of the book, you get to read from either Thane’s or Ciena’s perspective as they grow up in the Empire and go through the training, and eventually appear in the original trilogy movies. The first part of the book reminded me of when I would read some of the older Star Wars novels, when the authors would add to the universe you were already familiar with by using new and old characters. However, once Thane and Ciena graduate and join the Imperial Fleet, the book starts following the original trilogy, sometimes using the exact same scenes from the movies and trying to fit them in. That was fine to a degree, but at that point the book just started to read like fanfiction, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. The story was well written, but a lot of the middle part of the book was character insertions into the original trilogy and tacking some extra stuff on to expand the story some. I was disappointed, though, that the last hundred or so pages of the book talked about what happened after Episode VI but didn’t really get into the setup for Episode VII like I originally thought it would.
Also, I have read other books by Claudia Gray and I was impressed with how she wrote Lost Stars. I read one of her older series, about vampires, and was kinda lukewarm about her writing. This time around though, she either really improved her writing or excels at spinning Science Fiction/Space Operas. I didn’t even realize that I read any of her previous work until I did a little bit of research. After reading this book, I actually want to go back and read her other novels again.
That said, I would recommend this novel to any Star Wars fan that doesn’t mind reading about star-crossed lovers or going through the original trilogy again, but through a different perspective. It was a fun read and definitely got me in the mood to see The Force Awakens!
This book doesn’t get the full five stars because it doesn’t give as many details about The Force Awakens as I was led to believe. The book was also pretty predictable, which isn’t a far cry from the Star Wars movies themselves. I knew what was going to happen in the end about a third of the way into the book, which annoyed me to an extent. Some of the character interactions and reactions gave the book a tiny bit of a soap-opera feel, which got on my nerves as well. Other than that, the book was a pretty fun read. It read like Star Wars; it felt like Star Wars. The cast of characters is pretty diverse and interesting, and I loved it when some of the original characters would make a cameo appearance in the story. The romance was alright, not terribly cliché but also not overly heart-wrenching or original either. Overall, the book was pretty fun and sure to impress and entertain Star Wars fans and readers of all ages.