Review: Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

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three-and-a-half-stars

Rating: 3.5 Stars

The reign of the Galactic Empire has reached the Outer Rim 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 fledging 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 foes ever find a way to be together, or will duty tear them–and the galaxy–apart?

Sizzling with moral dilemmas, fascist ideologies and star-crossed lovers, Lost Stars tackles some serious issues inside our favorite galaxy.

Forgive my 2-month absence, felines, friends and foes; my computer science coursework has amped itself up to incredible heights, resulting in little spare time for reviewing or blog upkeep. Luckily, I’m on Spring Break and plan to take full advantage of freedom by digging into the newest canonic Star Wars materials. Lost Stars is the most highly-rated member of the “new canon” to date, so I just had to see what the hubbub was all about.

This book is the latest in a slew of new canon novels meant to replace the original Star Wars EU. As someone who despised most Extended Universe authors for their loose, uncaring and often narcissistic treatment of Star Wars, the EU’s erasure from official canon was good news to me…and bad news to milquetoast fanboys everywhere else, many of whom have found temporary solace in trashing the new canon novels and clinging to the EU like feral cats on a tree.

I am in no way biased against the new Star Wars canon; there is no lingering love for the EU stories that have been killed. I wanted them to be destroyed. I cackled maniacally when they were obliterated.

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The clean slate felt delicious, and the fresh layer of tightly-written stories such as Dark Disciple & A New Dawn has made my Star Wars experience even more enjoyable.

So, let’s dig into Lost Stars, a critically acclaimed new release–one that’s said to send shivers into your bones with its dark exploration of morality during the rise & fall of the Imperial Empire.

The Skinny:

Our story centers around two children from the mountain planet Jelucan: Thane, a kind boy from a prominent but abusive family, and Ciana, a spirited village girl whose culture deeply values honor and loyalty. From the start, their families are on opposite sides of the planet’s social classes, yet Thane and Ciana have one mutual dream: to become an Imperial pilot. Training every day, Ciana and Thane grow up alongside each other, eagerly consuming Imperial propaganda. But will they feel the same way when they come face-to-face with the dirtiest dealings of their beloved Empire?

The Verdict:

Like any novel, Lost Stars had its shining scenes and glaring flaws.

I liked:

  • the deep characterizations of Imperial Officers and their superiors–they’re human as can be while still retaining their original menace.
  • the depiction of moral struggle in a time of political chaos–very real, very heartbreaking
  • treatment of characters who have experienced trauma and abuse–once again, very real and true to life.
  • the artful planet and character descriptions–I felt like I was inside the story.

I did NOT like:

  • the relationship between Thane and Ciana–felt forced, had many holes, could be written better as a lifelong friendship.
  • the coincidences that just happened to place both Thane and Ciana inside every major event from A New Hope to the Return of the Jedi–annoying at times, no good explanation

Overall, I believe that it was an entertaining story with sufficient loyalty to the original material. But I do not believe that Lost Stars was particularly special–sure, there were a few tearful moments, and the political & moral commentary was of a high-quality. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t stomach the unrealistic relationship between the two main characters.

Thane and Ciana acted like insufferable idiots around each other. I just found myself wanting to lecture them into common sense. aka NO, Thane, stop being an irrational asshole. Or NO, Ciana, stop yammering on about your loyalty to a society that NOTABLY HAS NO LOYALTY WHATSOEVER.

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As the supposed “love” was a huge driving source of the story, I found myself uninspired and even frustrated by the characters’ choices. Yes, love is supposed to be irrational, but theirs didn’t even make sense.

All in all, A- on the setting, plot buildup and handling of wartime trauma. D+ on the romance, dropping a book with the potential for 4.5 stars down to 3.5 stars.

I’d recommend Lost Stars to:

  • Star Wars fans of all shapes and sizes. It’s worth the read.

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