Young Adult fiction or YA as it’s often referred to is one of my least favorite genres. The writing is often boring and too direct and the story telling lacks excitement and/or the unexpected. So when I first heard about Lost Stars i was not on board with the idea of a young adult Star Wars novel. Bringing the story elements that made Twilight a hit into the Star Wars universe just didn’t seem like a good idea to me, but in the end Claudia Gray and the team at Del Ray totally shattered those notions.
Lost Stars begins on Jelucan, during the Galactic Empire’s July 4th equivalent. The two main charaters, Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree meet and become close friends despite one being a “second waver” and the other a Jelucan native respectively. They train and fly together as kids until they are both accepted to the prestigious Imperial academy on Coruscant. They compete in each military exercise and remain the top two cadets on the reports at the end of every week. The two have a falling out after Thane sabotages his own assignment in hopes to gain an automatic passing grade. Ciena is framed for the obvious sabotage, an action made by the Empire in hopes to split the two apart. After graduation the two go their separate ways, but keep in contact and have a small reunion on the Death Star the day of the destruction of Alderaan. Thane travels to a distant spice mine world where he sees an alien race wrongfully enslaved. The horrors he sees lead Thane to abandon the Empire, a move that he hopes will convince Ciena to do the same, but Ciena remains loyal to the Empire, and Thane joins the rebellion. The two of them have continued run ins until the end when everything climaxes in space above the battle of Jakku. The final pages are full of emotion and heart wrenching moments that will have you staying up for hours to learn the fate of the two star (pun intended) crossed lovers.
Lost Stars is a phenomenal piece of literature, it shows a side of Star Wars that we have never seen before. Two people that to them the struggle between the Jedi and Sith is a far away story with no effect on their lives. All too often, Star Wars boxes itself in to the story of the Jedi and disregards the fact that it’s a big galaxy with trillions of stories to be told.
Another exciting element of the story telling is that we get to see iconic stories from the Star Wars lore from different perspectives. Thane tells us more about the battle of Hoth and Ciena’s military adventures give us a glimpse into Imperial politics after the destruction of the first Death Star.
The book is much more than good writing however, it also digs into the racism that has been previously untouched in Star Wars. Ciena’s home world of Jelucan becomes a segregated planet, split between the natives and the rich Seperatists who fled there after the Clone Wars. In a galaxy as diverse as the one in Star Wars, prejudice between alien races has to be commonplace. It’s a very interesting concept that we get to see more of in the Thrawne novel and hopefully it’s touched on in the films one day.
Lost Stars is not perfect, it has those classic YA pitfalls like an intimate scene that is forced and a tad cliche. It also forces just one too many Darth Vader cameos and other little things that are out of place. All together though it’s a very fun read that I would highly recommend to all Star Wars fans looking to expand the known universe beyond the Skywalkers.
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