Back in 2015, I was just a senior in High School who was insanely excited for this movie coming out called Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Everyone knew how hyped I was from this movie. The whole school literally just saw me as that Star Wars kid. It was great.
The build-up to The Force Awakens gave us something called Force Friday. Force Friday is a day where all the merchandise for the new film would come out. Stores would have all the products available and it was like Black Friday for Star Wars nerds. If you know me then you know of course I was “sick” on Force Friday. I left school around 10 am (when the stores opened) and headed right to Walmart. The parking lot was full as always, but something was different. There was excitement. People were rushing in and out with lightsabers, toys, everything. I ended up getting a Kylo Ren lightsaber at Walmart as well as a Kylo Ren action figure and a Kylo Ren shirt. Yeah, I was really really hyped for Kylo Ren.
The Walmart was close to a Target, so that’s where I was headed to next. I pulled into the parking lot and saw a van next to me with Star Wars stickers on it, much like my own (but a Ford Escape instead of a van). It was the first time it really hit me that so many people love Star Wars. As I walked in, the book section to my left was the first area I saw.
There was one book called “Lost Stars” that stood out to me. On the cover of the book said “journey to The Force Awakens” which had my attention. There were a few other books I was planning on checking out, but this one just stood out to me. I bought Lost Stars and went home.
I think I started reading Lost Stars at around 2 pm or so at my Dad’s house. I have ADHD so at the time I didn’t read on my own a lot. As I read the first chapter of Lost Stars, I was already really drawn in. I had heard nothing about this book but yet one chapter in it had already really drawn in my interest. I sat there on my bed for the next eight hours reading that book. It’s the only book of its length I’ve ever read in one sitting.
As many know, I absolutely adore this novel. Upon my first reading, I experienced laughter, anxiety, happiness, sadness, and satisfaction. I was utterly obsessed with this story. After finishing it I looked online and saw no one talking about it. How could this be? This was my favorite Star Wars book I’d ever read. How could no one be talking about it?
About a week later I looked up Lost Stars review on Youtube and came across a kid’s video about what he thought of the book.
I commented on his video saying how I loved it too, and eventually, we began talking about the book. At this point, I’d really wanted to make a Star Wars podcast but couldn’t find anyone to host it with me. This was September of 2015, before everyone and their grandmother started making podcasts. I even commented on some Star Wars News Net articles asking people if they’d be interested in starting a podcast. I was told some pretty mean things, to say the least. Anyways, Josh and I started the Force Talk Podcast because we just wanted to talk more about Lost Stars. This really started my journey into loving Star Wars.
I could go on for hours about what that book as meant to me, but that’s not the purpose of this piece. I want to examine why the book is so great, and how it really changed how I saw Star Wars.
If you aren’t familiar with Lost Stars, the book pretty much is about two people who find themselves on the opposite sides of a war. It’s crushingly realistic and an extremely well-written character-based book. The two main characters, Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree, grow up very differently. I’m not going to go into spoilers in this article except for the things that happen in the original trilogy of Star Wars as this book takes place during that time period.
What Lost Stars does so well is humanizing both sides of the war. It shows that the Empire isn’t all just evil people who want to bring death and destruction to the entire galaxy. Characters like Ciena show the good side of the empire. The people who truly believe in their cause. The people who, while guided by an Emperor with sinister interests, just want to make the galaxy a better place.
Our other main character, Thane Kyrell, demonstrates how sometimes the things we thought were good, aren’t. Sometimes even the things that we think are so basic, so instrumental to how our lives work just aren’t what we thought they were. Thane and Ciena start out on a similar path. This book does a phenomenal job at really making you feel like these characters are real. They feel like normal people just set in a galaxy far far away. I think that’s something that people really love about Star Wars. Just that fact that even though the saga is about space wizards waving around their space swords, you have characters who face the most human of problems.
Luke Skywalker just wanted to escape his home. Han is trying to find meaning. Leia just wants to do right by her people. These elements, while simple, ground characters in reality. Lost Stars does this exact thing. Its characters present common issues. Thane and Ciena have feelings for each other but don’t know that the other person feels anything towards them. Things like this make these characters some of the most relatable in all of Star Wars.
The novel does an extremely great job at making you feel. Whether this is anger, happiness, sadness etc., every chapter gives you a wide variety of emotions. This, again, is due to how Claudia Gray writes her characters. Gray has written other Star Wars novels and I can say that her greatest strength in her writing is character. Speaking of characters, Lost Stars is brilliant in how it introduces our main characters into a world that we already know very well. The book starts before the events of A New Hope and ends about a year after the Battle of Endor, concluding Return of the Jedi. Our characters go through the same events that Luke, Leia, and Han did, but from a fresh perspective.
This word: perspective is so important to the story of Star Wars. From one person’s view, the Empire could be a peaceful, necessary fist that controls the galaxy. To someone else, the Rebels could be the needed entity in order to bring peace back to the galaxy. What Lost Stars does so well is introduce this idea of perspective with its characters. There are times when you feel bad for the Empire. There are times when you’re angry with the Rebellion. One of the most glaring examples of perspective in Lost Stars is how it handles the all-important explosion of the first Death Star.
If you just watched the Original Trilogy, you’d think that the destruction of the Death Star was an amazing accomplishment that helped save millions of people from death and destruction. While this may be true, Lost Stars points out that there were people on that space station. Innocent people, who while serving under a sinister ruler, were genuinely good individuals who were just fighting for a cause they believe in. One of our main characters loses a friend on the Death Star and it really affects them throughout the entirety of the book.
The other concept that Lost Stars focused on a lot is the fact that life is based on choices. One choice can change the entirety of someone’s life. The choice to join the Empire vs the Rebellion is a prime example of this. If you switched who joined what side, how would their lives have changed? If Anakin never decided to kill Mace Windu would his life have turned out differently? This idea is used really well in Lost Stars.
All of our characters have to make hard choices that could alter the reality of their lives in an instant. This is best seen when two characters, on the other side of the war, are in the same battle. Neither person knows for sure that the other is in the battle, but they suspect that this could be the case. Every time the character kills an enemy ship, they wonder if the person on the other side that they care about was in that ship. It’s ideas like this that make Lost Stars so amazing. It takes things that we’ve grown up with our whole life and turns them on their sides in the best of ways. The book somehow adds depth to the Galactic Civil War without changing anything we thought before. Instead of removing story, it adds. This is the great strength of Lost Stars. It tells its own story within one we already know, and it does so to an amazing success.
Lost Stars is a magnificent read. If you love Star Wars, then you have to read this book. It changes the way you see things in the absolute best way. Now, when I go back and watch the Original Trilogy, my experience is bettered due to this book. That’s amazing to me. In Lost Stars Claudia Gray delivers an immersive Star Wars experience that you can’t stop reading. The characters, the story, and the themes make for a special reading experience. If you haven’t picked up Lost Stars you really should. It’s a magnificent novel and one that all Star Wars fans should read. I cannot recommend it enough. The book pretty much made me the massive fan I am today and for that, I can thank Claudia Gray.
I could go into a lot more detail about things from the plot that I loved about Lost Stars, but I don’t want to have spoilers in this article. If you do want me to write a piece about the plot, please let me know.