Saturday, December 19, 2015

Book Review: Lost Stars

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Title: Lost Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Disney LucasFilm Press
Publication Date: September 4, 2015
Source: Purchased
Star Wars meets Romeo and Juliet in this epic YA novel that follows two best friends who find themselves on opposite sides of the war between the Empire and the Rebellion.

This thrilling YA novel gives readers a macro view of some of the most important events in the Star Wars universe: from the purge of the Jedi in Episode III, to the beginnings of the rebellion in Star Wars Rebels, and through the fall of the Empire in Episodes IV-IV. Readers will experience these major moments through the eyes of two best friends who grow up in these troubling times, and find themselves on opposite sides of the war.

As with other Journey to Episode VII titles, hints about the upcoming film will be included in the narrative, as well a original, post-Episode VI content that sets up the new film.

DUAL NARRATIVE: Chapters alternate perspectives between our two protagonists – one a Rebel pilot, the other an Imperial officer. By exploring these two different worlds, readers will experience many of the major moments in the original Star Wars trilogy – from the destruction of the Death Star to the battle of Hoth – through these two characters' eyes.

My Review

Lost Stars by Claudia Gray is one of those books that I knew I wanted to read from the moment that I heard about it. Why? Star Wars, that's why.

It was just a matter of time before I got to read it. I wanted to finish Lost Stars before I saw The Force Awakens, but I didn't want to finish it before then because I was afraid there might be major spoilers. (There really aren't!) Finally, I just read it, and I do not regret that decision because this book is out-of-this-world spectacular! Not only is it full of the amazingness that is Star Wars, but Claudia Gray really knows how to capture and keep a reader's attention. I don't know if I can really say enough to let you know just how much I loved this book, but you should know that I love it.

Ms. Gray really captures everything that fans of Star Wars love about the film series, and she brings it to life with her words. Her writing is stellar, and she had me hooked from the very first paragraph. She describes everything - every system, every planet, every city - with the most vivid of words, and I really felt like I was seeing it all in my head as I read. The action scenes are spot on. I was able to see the paths that every ship in this book was taking. It was truly a magical reading experience.

What I really loved about this book is that Ms. Gray utilizes third person so well, but she does it in a way that really lets readers know the innermost thoughts of the two main characters, Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell. Throughout the novel, throughout each chapter, she flips back and forth so that readers always know what's going on with these two characters, and she never makes one feel more important than the other.

Another cool thing about Lost Stars? Claudia manages to bring in many of the characters that fans of the film series are already familiar with. There are small cameos and mentions about the main characters from the original trilogy, and it's just an awesome experience. I literally got goosebumps thinking about some of my favorite movies scenes from a different perspective.

The plot of this book is unbelievable incredible, and I am so glad that Ms. Gray managed to perfectly intertwine it with events from A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. Obviously we know that the Empire is corrupt, but the Imperial students and new cadets don't yet realize that. You'll follow Thane and Ciena on their journey from kids on Jelucan to an Imperial Academy to their time in the Imperial service. You'll also experience Thane abandon the Empire and set out on his own. It's one hell of a ride!

The characters in Lost Stars are everything that you would hope for in a Star Wars book. They just don't seem like two people written to make sense of a movie series that we know and love. Thane and Ciena are as real as it gets, even when they choose different sides of the war. You can really feel the inner conflict in both characters, and they will make readers feel so many different emotions. There were times that I cheered them on, and there were times when I wanted to scream at them. But I just loved the character development and how these two dealt with everything thrown at them.

What really, really surprised me was the romance in this book. Yes, it's being marketed as "Romeo and Juliet meets Star Wars," but I was really expecting the romance to fall a little flat. It does not, and I loved every moment of Thane and Ciena's slow simmering and explosive relationship. It's swoon-worthy, and I really was able to see why these two, Ciena and Thane, took so long to finally realize their feelings for one another. It was incredible to go on this journey with these two, and see the world through their eyes.

So... Star Wars fan or not, this book is one that I'd recommend to all fans of science fiction novels. Who knows? It just might be the book that makes someone a Star Wars fan. For me, I was completely satiated; I got everything I wanted out of a new Star Wars story and more. If you're looking for something with a lot of action, politics, war, and romance, look no further than Claudia Gray's Lost Stars. This is one book that I know I'll remember for the rest of my life.

Claudia Gray is the New York Times best-selling writer of numerous novels for young adults, including the science-fiction Firebird trilogy, beginning with A Thousand Pieces of You, and the paranormal Evernight series. She has been a Star Wars fan since she turned seven, and she now insists that transforming her childhood closet into an X-wing simulator was vital career preparation. 

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