Lost Stars, a YA novel by Claudia Grey, is a book that can easily be considered one of the better books of the “New Canon.” The two leads are compelling, the love story rarely becomes cheesy, and the climax is engaging. While many older fans might shy away from the novel because of its Young Adult label, this book is easily as good if not better than some of the Adult titles that have been released in the past two years.
The story centers around a man and a woman that are from the Outer Rim planet of Jelucan. As the novel begins Jelucan is joining the Empire and hopes are high about this new union between planet and galactic government.
During the festivities we are introduced to the two protagonists as children: Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree. Thane is from the aristocracy of the city, while Ciena is from the rural villages of the valley. Soon these two characters are whisked away into an adventure that spans almost 20 years.
One of the best aspects of Grey’s book is how it places you in the midst of several major events from the original trilogy from a different point of view. It was fascinating to see Thane and Ciena respond to the obliteration of Alderaan, but it was also as interesting how they interpreted the destruction of the first Death Star. What makes their perspective so interesting is that for a sizable portion of the book they are witnessing these events from the Imperial point of view. How did the Empire justify the destruction of Alderaan? Well, Grey does a great job showing us how many in the empire justify it. You can not help but hear the echoes of Nazi Germany and the support that government had in the pages of Lost Stars. One character in particular is systematically brainwashed into blindly supporting the Empire. It is a sad character arc, because as the reader you hope that he will see reason and leave the Empire.
The love story is actually not bad. Grey captures what people in their late teens and early twenties do when they are in love. And yes the two central characters fall in love. The problem that Thane and Ciena run into is that one of them decides to leave the Empire and join the Rebellion. It is here that Lost Stars really works. What happens makes sense and the rationale that each character has for going with the side they choose is believable. This separation drives the story forward the last half of the book and it is effective.
What doesn’t work?
Not much. If there was one thing that I felt was lacking was that the battle sequences were not that compelling to me. While I understand many readers felt those parts of the book worked fine, I did not find myself that engaged. I longed for more of these characters in action. While the action was the weakest part of the story, it was not bad, or poorly written. It just did not reach the level of the rest of the book.
This is a very good book. It is compelling, genuine, and definitely worth your time. I really think that Claudia Grey is a writer that should have a bright future in writing Star Wars stories. I look forward to her next book.*
4 Death Stars out of 5
* At New York Comic Con it was announced that Claudia Grey will release a new book entitled: New Republic: Bloodlines to be released in the Spring of 2016.