If I have one single favorite Star Wars novel, it might just be Lost Stars. And the funny thing is that I skipped over it a couple times when it first came out. Something about it didn’t catch me from the synopsis, so I read some other things first before finally caving in and picking this one up.
At the time, I think I was really looking for books that advanced the stories of the major characters: Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, etc. This wasn’t that. Some major characters are mentioned, some other characters make special appearances, but for the most part you get to meet brand new characters in Lost Stars, and you do it around the events of the entire original trilogy.
Slight programming note before I really jump into this one: I decided these need a bit more of a format going forward. So I am going to start breaking these posts into three main sections: What It’s About (a quick run-down of the main plot), What I Thought (a quick run-down of, well, what I thought), and Canon Points (what I think are the main things you should take away in terms of overall canon).
So let’s go!
What It’s About
Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree are both from the planet Jelucan, but in a sense they’re from different worlds. Thane is a “Second Waver” – a wealthy kid from a wealthy family, while Ciene (a “First Waver”) is from a simple family that struggles daily. They meet on the day where the planet is celebrating becoming a part of the Empire, and their fates become intertwined from that moment on.
Vowing to both join the Empire and become vital and succesful parts of the Navy, they practice together for years until it’s time to leave for official schooling. Their bond breeds healthy competition at school, where they both excel and become promising young students.
But the good times don’t last. They both bear witness to the Empire’s destruction of Alderaan, which sets each of them on different paths. Thane, who has already begun questioning the integrity of the Empire, comes to realize he no longer wants to be a part of the machine. While Ciena, who is always intensley loyal, rationalizes the Empire’s motives and continues to fulfill her oath of service.
Thane eventually finds himself a part of the Rebel Alliance, and this creates a huge problem with their relationship. After Thane leaves the Empire, they meet up again on Jelucan where they spend a night together even though they know the morning will bring a painful parting. Ciena, still loyal to the Empire, threatens to turn Thane in, but she ends up covering for him to her superiors.
The story ends at the Battle of Jakku, where Ciena (who is now captain of the Inflictor) eventually is forced to crash her Star Destroyer into the planet to avoid it being lost to the Rebels. Thane rescues her, only to discover that the Rebels are only interested in arresting her, as they would any other high-ranking Imperial. The love story ends with Ciena in a prison cell and Thane on the outside, vowing to wait for her release so they can be together.
What I Thought
Okay, I know this all sounds mushy. And it is. It’s a young adult novel, after all. But you have to understand: this is a beautifully crafted love story. It’s almost Shakespearean in nature, the two lovers that are never destined to be together. They often get so close, only to have something come between them, sometimes even driving them apart as friends.
One of the things I was least excited for in Lost Stars prior to reading it was the re-telling of the original trilogy. Why would I need it re-told to me when I already knew it so well? Boy, was I wrong. I loved how those events intertwined with the story, how they affected not just Thane and Ciena, but everyone around them. I loved seeing Ciena’s attempts to justify the Empire’s actions at Alderaan, her refusing to believe she committed herself to the service of something evil, how she even accepts it because the Rebels (terrorists in her mind) took the lives of some of her best friends aboard the Death Star.
I also loved Thane’s path to the Rebel Alliance. It’s not his first destination, and he doesn’t even believe in the cause of creating a new and better Republic. He joins the Rebels because he feels he needs to do something to stop the Empire. He’s almost General Hux in that he doesn’t care if there is a New Republic, he just needs the Empire to lose. It’s another one of those characterizations of the Rebels we see in the Disney era, somewhat like what was done with Cassian Andor in Rogue One.
There’s a couple points of canon I want to highlight here. One is that we have another mention of a species the Empire has enslaved. The Bodach’i and the Empire’s treatment of the species is one of the things that really drives Thane away from his post. But the main point is that we know of yet another species the Empire has enslaved. So if you have any of those “the Empire did nothing wrong” friends, maybe remind them of this…
Also the wrecked Star Destroyer we see on Jakku – that awesome shot of the wreckage in the sand – we find out that is Ciena’s ship, as mentioned above. So this is the novel where we find out exactly what happened, what ship met its end there, and who captained it into the sand. Admittedly, it’s a small detail, but I loved learning it as I read this book.
If you have never read this book, stop reading this blog right now and go pick it up. I’m not doing it justice here. This is a wonderful story, one absolutely deserving of your time. Whenever someone asks me where to start with Star Wars books, this is the one I give them. It’s such an easy read, with compelling characters, a heart-wrenching love story, and perfectly weaved into the movies we all know and love.
If you have read Lost Stars, I want to hear your thoughts on it. Comment below, talk to me on Twitter, hit us up on Facebook. Whatever. Let’s just talk about Lost Stars!