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Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Lost Stars Hardcover – September 4, 2015
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"Here's the pitch: A rebel and an Imperial fall in love against the backdrop of the entire Star Wars trilogy. Sounds like a winner, right? It is."―io9
"In a lot of ways, Lost Stars is perhaps the perfect Star Wars book... Lost Stars is everything I ever wanted from a Star Wars book and perhaps more."―Nerdophiles
"...the best novel in the new Star Wars canon...Claudia Gray not only does great character work, but she knows her way around a swashbuckling action scene."―Uproxx
"Put simply, if you like Star Wars, then you can't go wrong with Lost Stars... Is it the best novel in the Star Wars universe? Maybe so."―SF Signal
"...one of the best Star Wars books I've ever read..."―IGN
"Writing new characters into such a beloved universe is no small feat, but Gray does it with ease--and I loved every moment of this novel."―Kirkus Reviews
"...raw, thought-provoking, and unlike any other Star Wars story..."―Nerdist
"...Gray crafts a well-written, enthralling narrative that will appeal to Star Wars fans of all ages."―New York Daily News --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Claudia Gray is the New York Times best-selling writer of numerous novels for young adults, including the science-fiction Firebird trilogy, beginning with A Thousand Pieces of You, and the paranormal Evernight series. She has been a Star Wars fan since she turned seven, and she now insists that transforming her childhood closet into an X-wing simulator was vital career preparation.
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The author does a fantastic job of inventing her own story while fitting it seamlessly into the Star Wars narrative. She creates two interesting characters from a new, unique planet and culture. And then she takes us through their lives from the first time they meet at eight years old until the period shortly after Return of the Jedi when they are well into their twenties. They provide a refreshingly unique perspective on Star Wars, giving us insight on what it was like to be apart of the Empire when Alderaan was destroyed and how difficult it can be to balance duty with what is right. We meet new characters and old favorites in scenes that have real substance rather than coming off as merely fan service. We see the relationship between Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree grow and evolve over years and insurmountable odds. It's Star Wars but it's more than that. It's a qhole new story that goes deeper than we have seen before on screen.
I really love this book. I know that there are people out there who hesitate to read it because it's been shoe-horned into the YA genre and because it's got a heavy emphasis on Thane and Ciena's relationship. But that really shouldn't stop people from picking this book and reading it. Everyone's talking about Aftermath by Chuck Wendig but, really, this is the book we should be talking about. This is the book that deserves credit for starting the post-ROTJ canon off strong.
Longer: When Star Wars was released in 1977, part of its appeal was that you knew who to cheer for and who to boo. After years of movies dominated by ambiguity and flawed heroes, this update of a silent melodrama seemed positively refreshing. But nothing's ever that black and white - there were (assuming for a moment that these characters were "real") human stories behind every TIE fighter that blew up. Not all of the billions of Imperials who didn't manage to jump ship and join the rebels were evil. Some were caught up in something that they misunderstood, that give them no choice, that lied to them.
LOST STARS begins with two characters drawn to the new Empire and all of its promises as children. The "Romeo and Juliet" comparisons people toss around are overstating things; their familiars aren't wild about their friendship, but it's a very minor issue in the overall book. As one quickly becomes cynical to the Empire and one tries to stay loyal, the two journey through the Star War trilogy (and a year or two beyond) on the fringes in sort of the same way that Forrest Gump journeyed through 20th century American history (or perhaps the way Phineas and Ferb journeyed through the periphery of " New Hope.)" But the references to stray lines and events in the original films never feel forced - the characters' stories are brilliantly and organically woven into the saga. You understand the different choices they make, the risks they take, and what's going on in their head even when you disagree with them. The romance between them (which lurks in the background most of the time) feels far more realistic than most of the romance in Star Wars books. Without delving into spoilers, by the end of the book their relationship seems well-worn and lived in that's sort of rare in fiction (it's a common joke in the YA world that the last line of every book should be "and then they probably broke up six months later.") These are interesting characters with backgrounds and stories of their own, and their relationship is complicated, just like real relationships are.
And all of this, throughout the politics and the relationships and cameos from better-known characters, manages to be great fun. The 500+ pages went by quickly. Honestly, I sometimes think Star Wars just does't translate to books very well - without the visuals and the score, some of the impact is gone, and sometimes I feel like I'm just reading a lot of tech talk and sound effects. Often I just skip around and read the main plot points to see what's going on in the galaxy at this point in the timeline. That was never an issue here. I just wished there were more of it.
This book may get lost in the shuffle; it's being marketing to an audience (YA) that's narrowed considerably since the Harry Potter era, when there was more crossover with people who normally read from the adult section. But when the dust settles and we've had time to sift through all the new Star Wars material that's come with the Force Friday deluge, Lost Stars will stand up as a high point.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a YA writer myself and I do know the author. If you want to brush off my thoughts because of that, fine. And I can sympathize with those who mourn the loss of the expanded universe books from the last 25 odd years - I can remember long days of debates with my friends about what might happen in the third Zahn book when it came out. But I like season 1 of "Rebels" more than I liked pretty much any new Star Wars stuff that had come out since 1983, and Lost Stars joins my list of reasons to think the new canon will be worth it. Give it a shot and enjoy the ride. I can even entertain a hope that it could get more people to check out the YA section again and see if there's anything else good in there...
Even with focus on new "minor" characters, this feels like Star Wars, and it ties together important scenes, locations, and motivations. And it's fun!
My only "complaint" about this book is that it hasn't been marketed as strongly as Aftermath, probably because it's been relegated to the "Young Adult" category. But there's really nothing in it (and nothing that it's missing) that should keep any not-so-young adults from reading it. It's a solid, well-written story that takes the reader through the original trilogy from the point of view of new characters, and ends up at the very beginning of the "aftermath" that will eventually lead to The Force Awakens.
Thanks for the nice surprise!