Thursday, 7 January 2016

'Lost Stars', by Claudia Gray

Title: Lost Stars
Author(s): Claudia Gray
Release Date: 8th October 2015
Publisher: Egmont Books
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Bought

Synopsis:
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?


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I am a huge Star Wars fan. I saw all the original films when I was a child and anxiously went to see the prequels when they first came out in the cinema. I've always had a special place in my heart for the franchise since it's been with me for so long (the only other one that I've known for that long is Harry Potter), so you can imagine my level of anticipation for this new go at the world with the release of 'The Force Awakens'.

I was aware that there were several mediums allowing a more expanded look into the world (like books, graphic novels and animated series) but I never had that much interest in them. However, after re-watching all of the movies and falling into the pit of Star Wars love like there was no tomorrow, I definitely wanted to give the books a try.

This book encompasses quite a large time period, as it starts at the end of Episode III and goes a year or so past Episode VI. Initially I thought it would be more compact and that this spread would make for a rushed story but the pace was incredibly well achieved.

I can only imagine how hard it was to write a story revolving around movies that have been around for almost 40 years, while trying to have that perfect balance of bringing something new to the world and at the same time hitting that nostalgia factor and making it seem like it belongs there. I have seen a lot of bad reviews regarding other novels in the Star Wars canon but thank the Force, this one is just absolutely brilliant in that aspect (and frankly, in all others you can think of).

Thane Kyrell was born on the same year as the Empire. His planet is being annexed into its grasp and there is not one soul there that does not want to enter this seemingly perfect union, especially Ciena Ree (a POC, God bless!) and her family. Even already having the knowledge of what the Empire actually stood for, it was so engrossing reading this jaded perspective of people that truly believed in it. I kept going back in my head to Nazi Germany, and wondered if this is what people at the time felt like when they voted for Hitler to be elected. The slow, phased development into chaos and corruption as people started realizing how wrong they where to believe in such a system was a treat to read.

As for the main characters, they have so many parallels to others in the franchise that I had no problem in believing they could actually exist in it. They are avid pilots, want to fight for the good of the galaxy (even if their different ideas of 'good' might not be in agreement) and we even have some 'daddy issues' thrown in for good measure. This could have easily gone wrong and felt like a rip off and a carbon copy of characters from the movies (who also make some appearances), but their depth really makes them stand as their own people.
  
You can easily follow along with the timeline and figure out where the movies fit into it. I had so much fun googling random character names that were mentioned to see if they were in the movies and all of them were. This shows an incredible amount of work and dedication in putting together this story, because the sheer volume of detail and how much it all makes sense and doesn't feel forced is just the best kind of ridiculous. These main characters manage to always be in the center of the action (again, without it seeming like they are there just because they have to be) and I know for sure that when I re-watch the movies I will be imagining them there.

If you are one of the few people that has yet to see any Star Wars film, this would be a great way for you to dip a toe into the waters of this galactic epic and see if it would be an enjoyable ride. It will spoil some of the major events of the movies for you, but nothing that I think would majorly take away from the experience. This book also gives some background into events from the beginning of Episode VII, and having that information really helped with fully understanding the linearity of the canon and bringing the novel into it.

There is literally not one negative thing I can say about this book. At the very best I can complain that I was frustrated at how open ended it is, because I have this theory about the main characters that I was hoping to get confirmed but no such luck. But that's what her following book ('Bloodline: New Republic', being released June 3rd) will hopefully get to. In the meantime, Star Wars fan or no Star Wars fan, go and pick up this book as fast as you can. I promise you, it is well worth it. And may the Force be with you!

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