The following part of the review contains SPOILERS. For a non-spoiler review, click here.
For me, Lost Stars sits at the top with A New Dawn and Dark Disciple. It combines the exploration of new characters, as seen in A New Dawn, and the emotional depth of Dark Disciple, making it a compelling read and a favorite novel in the fan community.
Kathryn Harbin: Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars is so great so far. It’s the first Star Wars book I’ve read, and a perfect jump into the new stuff.
Bill Black: About 150 pages into Star Wars – Lost Stars by Claudia Gray. To keep it spoiler-free, pick this one up for some great storytelling.
Star Wars Digital: Just finished Lost Stars the Journey To The Force Awakens novel. WOW! Epic story. Extremely well written characters. One of my favourite books!
Mario Coto: My goodness, Star Wars: Lost Stars was out-freakin-standing! I’ll love getting pleasantly surprised, and this did it! Please, read this one!
Ryan L. Schrodt: Finished STAR WARS: LOST STARS last night. Don’t let the YA fiction label deter you, this is a must read. It was amazing.
Daniel Berry: I can say with utmost certainty, that Claudia Gray’s “Lost Stars” is the greatest Star Wars novel I have ever read.
The Amazon reviews are just as positive, and I couldn’t be happier. When Lost Stars was first announced, I knew right away that this would sit at the top of my Journey to The Force Awakens reading list. Not only am I a big fan of young adult novels, but I’m also a hopeless romantic, so the star-crossed lovers marketing pitch immediately grabbed my attention. When a two-chapter preview was released on iTunes a few weeks prior to the September 4 release, I dropped everything that I was doing to read those first 150 pages. Needless to say, I fell in love with the characters, the concept, and the direction it was headed in.
Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree are the kind of characters I’ve been wanting to see in Star Wars for a long time now. As someone who hasn’t read much of Legends, this is my first exposure to characters who don’t completely think in black and white.
Thane is someone who grew up in an abusive household, so he has this thing against authority figures. Despite being the most authoritative body in the galaxy, the Empire was his only way to get off his home planet of Jelucan and become an ace pilot. His relationship with that entity turns sour, however, after seeing people (e.g. the Bodach’i) being abused and manipulated, like he was a child, forcing him away from the life he worked so hard to achieve. Even after becoming a turncoat, he still doesn’t fully trust the leaders of the Rebel Alliance because he sees no difference between one governing body and another–they all eventually become corrupt bodies of power. This instantly reminded me of Cham Syndulla, Janus Kasmir, and a handful of other characters who stood outside of the raging war and saw one side as no different from the other. Despite feeling lukewarm about the Rebel Alliance, he does see and start to believe in the good they strive to achieve, and he witnesses this through his interactions with Wedge Antilles, Dak Ralter, Mon Mothma, and even Princess Leia.
One of my favorite Thane moments is when he’s in a briefing, he turns to Twi’lek pilot Yendor, and says, “Who the hell is General Solo?” From an audience’s point of view, we all obviously know who’s Han Solo, but within the world itself, it’s great to see characters not know the identities of other characters. It’s more realistic for a character to say that, especially a character who hasn’t been around to hear of the heroic acts of someone like Han Solo.
Through Thane, we also discover new and memorable characters, such as the Wookiee Lohgarra and the crew of the Mighty Oak Apocalypse (which is the coolest ship name ever), the humorous Yendor (who left his family behind on Ryloth to fight for the greater good), and the aristocrat and squadron leader the Contessa (who Claudia Gray had imagined to look like Michelle Yeoh, a detail that blows my mind every time).
So while Thane went from a cynical individual to an idealist, Ciena Ree traveled the opposite route. She was a young idealist rooted in the honorable ways of her culture. Promises, loyalties, and oaths aren’t things that are easily broken for her people and to break one would mean bringing shame upon her and her family. She constantly reminds me of a combination between Fa Mulan (Mulan) and Zuko (Avatar: The Last Airbender), where upholding and seeking honor is the single most important duty. The concept of cultural honor is one that still continues in many present day cultures, so while some people might have felt annoyed by Ciena’s constant internal battle, I found it to be an accurate representation of modern day individuals struggling between independence and cultural heritage. And despite seeing the corruption and brutality of the Empire, she also stayed because she believed in the structure. She knew she couldn’t change the Empire as a whole, but with command of her own ship and through her own actions, there was still that lingering hope that some sort of change can come at her own hands. And previous to that, she believed in the people around her, like Nash Windrider, Jude Edivon, and Berisse, to do the right thing. However, the weight of the destruction of Alderaan combined with being disheartened by Nash and Berisse’s positive reaction to seeing a second Death Star, she started to see that Thane was right all along, but her oath kept her bound to the Empire. She became a cynical person, believing that people were after their own gain instead of the betterment of the galaxy.
We also get to know a variety of characters through Ciena, including Jude and Nash. What’s so great about this book is that you won’t see the original trilogy movies the same way ever again. When the Death Star explodes, I will immediately think of Jude and the thousands of other innocent souls who perished on it. People, like Ciena, who thought they were bringing peace and order to the galaxy. Nash, however, took things to the extreme, becoming an Imperial fanatic. Out of all the characters, he had the most tragic development because he was Alderaanian and he completely let go of that part of himself for the Empire, whereas Ciena and Thane still held onto their Jelucani memories, traditions, and beliefs. He is the perfect Imperial officer, sacrificing the ties to his home planet to strengthen his commitment to the Empire. That is what the Imperial Academy tried to instill in Thane and Ciena in an attempt to break them apart, and although it didn’t work on them, they managed to transform other culturally driven individuals into citizens (and servants) of the Empire.
As for the love story itself, I live for this stuff. Two characters who grew up with each other, end up bumping heads, but they still give into their feelings for each other? It was the perfect dose of romance without drowning out the rest of the story. Some of my favorite Thane and Ciena moments involve them trying to best each other at the Academy, the Imperial Ball, the two discovering that they’re both alive after the destruction of the Death Star, Thane visiting and standing by Ciena’s family, and of course, the more intimate moments that transpired between them on Jelucan. My ultimate favorite Thane and Ciena sequence, however, happened at the very end when Thane infiltrated her Star Destroyer and made it his number one priority to get Ciena out that ship alive. What I didn’t expect was for her to put up a fight! That added to the suspense, and while I was reading the chapter, it felt like I was watching a movie. When Thane was running with her unconscious body on his shoulder, I kept calling out, “Go, go, go!” And finally, when the escape pod ejected, I clapped and yelled out in glee. I’m so thankful that neither of them died because it would have been such a cliché had it gone down that route. Plus, seeing her being treated humanely as a prisoner gives me hope that she’ll change her mind or cooperate somehow, and given Thane’s undying love for her, he’ll be right there waiting.
Also, not only did this book change the way I see the original trilogy, but it changed the way I now see the second teaser trailer of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I can now look at the downed Star Destroyer on Jakku and say, “That was Ciena’s ship!” I enjoy the gradual buildup to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the bits of information that continue surface. The introduction of new characters and the expansion of the universe through their eyes are things of which I’m always a big fan.
Finally, the ending is just begging for a continuation. Where does Ciena go from here? Will Thane successfully convince his superiors that she’ll be of use to the Rebellion, even though she refuses to give information? How will their relationship progress, while the Empire continues to secretly rebuild in hiding? Will Nash discover the truth about Ciena surviving the Battle of Jakku? The overwhelmingly positive response to the book has been astonishing and it rightfully deserves a sequel. I need to see Thane and Ciena again in the near future, especially in the hands of Claudia Gray.