Star Wars Ph.D: Every week, Jon Davis will take a look at the new, expanded Star Wars universe and discuss which Star Wars projects are worthy of our attention.
Let's talk about the best novel in the new Star Wars canon: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray. Claudia is a lifelong Star Wars fan and when given the opportunity to tell a story set during Episodes 4-7, she knocked it out of the park.
Lost Stars is designated as Young Adult novel but don't let that put you off. First, there's nothing wrong with Young Adult. In fact, it's a label publishers give to any book starring characters younger than 27. If Catcher in the Rye came out today, it would be labeled Young Adult.
Second, yes, Lost Stars features a torrid romance that spirals outwards and destroys friendships and families. But it's also Star Wars through and through. The books stars Thane Kyrell, a independent boy who comes from a wealthy family on the windy planet of Jelucan, and Cienna Ree, a girl hailing from the villages of Jelucan, who grew up poor and honor bound to the Empire. But the two both share a love for flying, and they become fast friends. They grow up together, enter the Imperial Academy together, develop feelings for one another…until they end up on opposite sides of the galactic war between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire. This threatens to put them in direct conflict where they could end up killing each other.
There's a Romeo & Juliet story here, but there's also a Rosencrantz & Guildenstern element, as these two young soldiers can be found in every major Star Wars event in the original trilogy. And it doesn't feel shoehorned in, like Nikki and Paulo in Lost. It's earned and it makes complete sense. None of the outcomes of any of the battles are changed or altered, we are just seeing their story play out.
Claudia Gray alternates between Thane and Cienna's perspectives. When they are at odds — and they are at odds a lot — there's a lot of room to question who is more honorable or morally superior during every twist and turn of the bigger Star Wars story. We might think we side with one character, until we get the other's point of view, leaving us with a thorough understanding of both.
Claudia Gray not only does great character work, but she knows her way around a swashbuckling action scene. Seriously, this is probably the best non-movie Star Wars tale since The Force Awakens was announced. I truly hope it's adapted into a live action TV mini series. And if you were ever wondering what the origins of the wreckage on Jakku in The Force Awakens, you might get your answers here as well.
Is it canon? YES
Is it worth your time? YES