Retro Reviews: ‘Lost Stars’ by Claudia Gray

July 28, 2020 at 8:34 am | Posted in Books, Disney Lucasfilm Publishing, Reviews, Star Wars, Star Wars Books | Leave a comment

Lost Stars by Claudia Gray is the first Young Adult novel in the canon of Star Wars, which was a part of the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” line of books. It was released in September of 2015.

This is probably one of the most well defended Star Wars books in the canon. The people who love this book, truly LOVE it. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve seen it not only on someone’s top 10 list, but almost always at the #1 spot. And I can totally see why someone would feel that way about it. But for me, it’s not that amazing.

This book really happens in two phases, the first half and the second half. The first half of the book really reads like a standard YA sci-fi novel. It’s got all the young adult tropes and cliches that happens to be set in the Star Wars Universe. The second half of the book really feels like a Star Wars book, albeit one that happens to be a YA romance. I’ll admit, I enjoyed the second half a lot more than I enjoyed the first half.

People who know me know I love a good love story. Love stories as a part of fantasy, science fiction, or media tie-in fiction tend to be ones I enjoy more than others in my demographic. However, Lost Stars pulls more from Romeo and Juliet in it’s style than it does from say Disney princess movies. Now, some people love the “Star Crossed Lovers” trope, and that’s totally fine and this is definitely the book for them. But for me, I prefer a book where not only are the characters from similar ideologues, but they have a more happy arc and ending.

Another problem that I have with the book isn’t so much with Claudia Gray but with the editorial staff at the Disney Lucasfilm press (and at Lucasfilm itself). While I personally enjoy love stories, I don’t like seeing the consummation of those love stories on screen. I believe that George Lucas once said that the Star Wars version of a sex scene is kissing, and I wish that authors would stick to that more, or at least, only include scenes that are more within confines of definitive relationships such as marriage. It’s a personal problem and I don’t knock the book too hard for it, but it is something I wish Lucasfilm would change.

The beginning of the book focuses on the most common of YA tropes: friends to lovers, going off to school, and feuding families. While none of these tropes are uncommon in Star Wars, to have them all together seemed a little too much for Star Wars.

The second half of the book had a similar feeling to Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal, in that it wove two unknown people throughout history. However, this book is more in line with Michael Stackpole’s I Jedi, in that it weaves these characters throughout fictional history (which is a trope that I love!). There were times where the weaving of these characters through history reminded me a little too much of Forrest Gump, in that it seemed to stretch credulity that these characters would happen to be present for so many events in Star Wars history. However, overall, that is what made the book so good for me, and for so many other people.

If I have one specific nitpick with the book, it’s that there were some scenes around the A New Hope timeline, that don’t match up with Rogue One at all, and actually seem to contradict it. However, I understand that this book was written before they knew all of how Rogue One would end and that not all the authors and editors had all the information at their disposal. I would personally like it better if the story group had been a little more careful about lining things up here, but thankfully this can be chalked up to “unreliable narrators” who don’t understand everything going on.

Regarding some things that I really did like, I loved the scene that included Mon Mothma. I thought that Claudia Gray nailed her character and made her really relatable. I think that if there were awards for individual scenes in Star Wars, that scene would earn one.

Claudia Gray took a lot of time developing the worldbuilding and mythology of Jelucan (named for Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek), and it really made the planet vivid and real to me. I think that the planet is ripe for use in another book or even another medium. However, despite all of the worldbuilding that Gray did for Jelucan, she did very little for other planets that her characters were on. That’s not a big problem, but it’s one thing that she improves in other books.

I also really enjoyed reading about Yendor more in my reread. Yendor provided just enough humor and fun to the story that I thought Gray tried to bring with Nash at times that didn’t work. Yendor also really worked for me, as he is used again in Claudia’s Bloodlines and in Resistance Reborn. I hope that we have not seen the end of Yendor in the novels.

My final comment is in the formatting of this book and all other YA books for Lucasfilm. They don’t include other works written by the author in the front of the book like Del Rey does, and sometimes I like having a list of an author’s works in their books. I also am disappointed that the Disney Lucasfilm Press has not established a timeline, or at least a list of other YA novels so that one can know if they’ve read all of them. It’s a small complaint about formatting, but it is something that bugs me.

Overall, this is a very well done book by Claudia Gray. I personally think that she gets better and better with her later work, and I think all of her other works get 5 stars from me. However, I do have a few problems with this book, so for me it gets a 3.5 out of 5. Good job Gray!

My next book is Battlefront: Twilight Company, by Alexander Freed, which I read once and honestly cannot remember anything about it, so it should be fun.

Written by Jonathan Koan

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