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A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Ever wonder what other people did with their time while the heroes of the Rebel Alliance were battling the Empire? Claudia Gray tells a different side of the story in Lost Stars, a Star Wars novel.

A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away

BOOK REPORT for Lost Stars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens) by Claudia Gray

Cover Story: Star WarsTM
BFF Charms: Eventually, Heck Yes
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: He Said, She Said
Bonus Factor: Star Wars
Anti-Bonus Factor: The Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting
Relationship Status: Heart Eyes

Cover Story: Star WarsTM

There’s a lot of branding happening on this cover, but it’s done in a way that isn’t totally obnoxious. Yes, it’s very obviously a Star Wars book—even if the logo wasn’t top and center, the combined Rebel Alliance and Empire insignias, plus the in-trouble Star Destroyer, would totally give it away. (At least, it would to those of us who are nerds.) But nearly equal weight is given to the actual title of the book, and it’s even more prominent on the spine. And who doesn’t love a space background?

The Deal:

While growing up on the planet of Jelucan, Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell became fast friends and bonded over their mutual love of piloting, even though they were from two very different social classes/cultures. As they got older, their friendship got stronger, regardless of their differences, and their skill as pilots brought them success, first in the Imperial Training Academy, and then as soldiers in the Empire.

As people grow older, however, they often come face to face with harsh realities about the things they once held so dear. Some are willing to break oaths to join rebellions. Others believe so strongly that their word is their bond that they start to sacrifice themselves for the shell of what used to give them strength. When Ciena and Thane find themselves on opposing sides of a galactic war, their friendship will be tested to its breaking point.

BFF Charm: Eventually, Heck Yes

Ciena’s culture believes that nothing is more important than a person’s word, and that breaking one’s oath is the absolute worst thing a person can do, even when keeping the oath means being a part of something that kills your soul. I believe strongly that it’s important to keep your word, and I make every attempt to do so. However, I do realize that there occasionally comes a time when keeping your word just isn’t smart—or morally right—any longer. In general, I liked Ciena a whole lot, and I think she would be an excellent friend. But her strict adherence to loyalty, even when it seemed downright insane, was a little much, and I know for certain that we’d find ourselves on different sides of many situations because of it.

Thane’s upbringing was much different from Ciena’s. His parents were terrible (more on that below), and didn’t believe strongly in anything other than making money and expanding their power and influence. Thankfully, people are not always a product of their upbringings, and Thane became a good person regardless. He’s also not as willing to go along with the status quo, and questions authority whenever he feels like something isn’t quite right. (And sometimes, just to be snarky, which I find delightful.) In ways, he’s equally as loyal as Ciena, but he’s not willing to go against what’s right just to prove that.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Claudia Gray definitely knows her way around swoon. And, thankfully, she also knows how to build a wholly believable and meaningful relationship between two people who might be struggling with morality and values, but are certain of how they feel about each other.

Talky Talk: He Said, She Said

Gray switches off between Thane and Ciena’s POVs throughout Lost Stars, often even in the middle of a chapter. The shifting is never confusing, however, and gives a look at both sides of a situation, which helps to strengthen both characters’ personalities. As Thane and Ciena grow older, it’s fascinating to see how their beliefs begin to change, and it’s amusing (in a sense) to “see” the occasional complete disconnect over a situation when the characters think they’re on the same page.

Bonus Factor: Star Wars

Full disclosure: I am a huge nerd, and I couldn’t be more proud of the fact. I am SUPER excited about the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and have loved all the new merch that has become available in the last few months. And when I heard that Claudia Gray, an author whose books I really like, was writing a Star Wars YA novel, I got giddy. It’s like this book was written for me.

Of course, I had some hesitation that the book would try to shoehorn the movies’ plots into a story that felt too different from what’s canon, but all that fear was for naught. Lost Stars fits naturally into the Star Wars universe, and covers a timeline that runs from before A New Hope to just after Return of the Jedi. Familiar names, faces, and situations appear throughout, but they never feel forced or awkward. Although those of us who’ve seen the movies a few times know full well who Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker are, in a galaxy of billions, it would make sense that they, at one point, weren’t household names. For example, when someone mentions General Solo to Thane, he thinks “General Who?” Lost Stars is Thane and Ciena’s story, first and foremost, and it works, so well.

Anti-Bonus Factor: The Patty Chase Award for Awful Parenting

Thane’s parents are horrible people. They aren’t in the book all that much, but their effects on Thane when he was younger permeate the story. Both—TRIGGER WARNING—mentally and physically abusive, they wholly deserve Thane’s (and Ciena’s) scorn. It’s amazing that Thane was able to turn out as fantastic as he did.

Casting Call:

Zoë Kravitz as Ciena

Stefano Masciolini as Thane

Relationship Status: Heart Eyes

I’m totally a third wheel when it comes to your characters, Book, but I couldn’t be more willing to just sit back and enjoy the ride. I’m delighted that you turned out to be such a great date, and I hope that we’re able to see a lot more of each other in the future.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from a friend, and got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Lost Stars is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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