Lost Stars

December 24, 2015 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

Lost StarsLost Stars by Claudia Gray

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I was so hyped up to read Aftermath that I didn’t pay much attention to the other books in the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” series. Most of them were children’s books and comics, along with this YA novel, and I figured I would start with the book written for grown-ups. That was a tremendous mistake, but I read some good things about Lost Stars and decided to give it a go. That was the right decision.

The differences between Lost Stars and Aftermath are like night and day. Where Aftermath was a slow, ponderous, boring affair, Lost Stars was rich with character, compelling, and interesting. The story focuses on the lives of two people — Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree — who met on their home planet at a young age, became close friends, and went on to high achievement in the Imperial Academy. What they see once they enter the war against the Rebellion changes them, though in different ways, and eventually they wind up on opposite sides in the same war. Lost Stars is about their growth, their maturity, really their entire lives, and Gray tells it with such precision and emotion that it’s hard not to get caught up in their story.

It doesn’t hurt that Gray chooses to tell their story before the backdrop of the entire original series. The novel spans a length of time from years before the events of Star Wars and a few years past the end of Return of the Jedi. Thane and Ciena both wind up being a part of all the major events in all three movies, which on the one hand seems pretty convenient, but when you look back on the entire series of movies, you find that they’re lousy with coincidences. Those can usually be chalked up, rather sloppily, to “The Force”, but Gray manages to pull everything together without it feeling overly contrived.

In addition, Gray doesn’t paint either of her main characters as being unsympathetic, despite the fact that they’re on opposite sides of a bitter, ongoing war. Ciena’s reasons for trusting the Empire and maintaining her loyalty make sense, as do Thane’s reasons for feeling betrayed by the Empire and finding reasons to support the Rebellion. Even though we, the outsiders, know the truth behind the sides, Gray doesn’t assume that such a perspective is enough for her story. She gives compelling reasons for both sides of the argument, so that we can still like both characters enough to root for both of them.

This story moves so quickly it surprised me. It took me three days to finish Aftermath (and it would have taken longer, except I woke up yesterday determined to finish that piece of work), but Lost Stars took me just a few hours. I would recommend this novel over Aftermath without hesitation if there are readers out there wanting to know what happened between Episodes VI and VII, regardless of age. Lost Stars is marketed as a YA novel, but the characters start their stories at age eight and finish up in their early twenties, making it appropriate reading for anyone above that age. Besides, anyone looking for a compelling, well-told tale told in the Star Wars universe should start here.

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