Lost Stars (Star Wars, Journey to the Force Awakens)

Monday, May 29, 2017


Lost Stars (Star Wars, Journey to the Force Awakens)
Claudia Gray, 2015

Premise: Thane and Ciena grow up together, even though their families couldn't be more different and still be from the same planet. When they join the Imperial Academy, everything will change.

I wanted to love this book. I heard nothing but praise for it. "It's a YA in Star Wars; it's great!"

Unfortunately, for me, the combination of YA romance and Star Wars novel ended up accentuating the worst of each.

To be fair, I quite liked the beginning, which followed the two characters growing up on a planet that is annexed by the Empire during their childhood. The way they didn't understand galactic politics as children felt realistic. They both work hard to enroll in the Imperial training school to get to fly starships.

As the characters got a little older and started to fall for each other it was a little melodramatic but not bad. Then, however, the plot started to take turns for the obvious, and it just kept taking them.

The YA/romance tropes included a complete inability to solve simple problems by talking to each other, the dramatic makeover that makes the girl-next-door suddenly desirable, the forced reasons they can't be together, despite being willing to sacrifice anything for each other.

The Star Wars tropes included really obvious moments of "the Empire is evil" without any of the nuance of the earlier sections, convenient and somewhat unlikely evidence of the goodness of the Rebellion, forced references to the movies, and belaboring the morality (for example, explicitly explaining the points about indoctrination that had been just implied in the beginning until they weren't interesting). I have enjoyed licensed books, including Star Wars, in the past, but I hate it when tie-in books are used to explain and fill-in every possible moment. It usually feels forced and awkward.

The combination of these two styles ended up being less good than either alone, for my taste. I found the characters unbelieveable and unlikeable by turns, and I was only frustrated with their romantic miscommunications. The book twists itself into knots trying to keep the partner who stays in the Imperial service sympathetic, and for me, it just didn't work.

2 Stars - An Okay Book

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