Lost Stars by Claudia Gray, Review by Corinne Donnelly
If you know the original Star Wars movies like the back of your hand, you will thoroughly enjoy Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars. The book begins at the rise of the Galactic Empire and ends a year after the Battle of Endor. Instead of following the major players from the movies, the story is told from the perspective of Thane and Ciena, two childhood friends who aspire to become Imperial officers. While the plot moves quickly, Gray adeptly maneuvers within the established Star Wars universe, and manages to add new and exciting characters and worlds to the mix.
Don’t be put off by the lack of familiar characters. Gray provides Thane and Ciena with vivid backstories and complex interactions with family, friends, and fellow cadets and officers. The worlds they traverse, including their home planet, all possess distinct traits and have purpose in the plot; they are not just tossed in for novelty. If you’re still not convinced, a few bones are thrown in for Star Wars purists, so the book is not entirely devoid of characters and planets we all know and love already.
While the book starts off slowly, and parallels elements from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (“Two households, both alike in dignity…”), once Thane and Ciena reach adolescence, the action picks up quickly. The contrast between the two also adds significant intrigue, especially as they head off to the Imperial Academy. Despite Thane and Ciena being the “bad guys,” it’s surprisingly easy to connect with them. Everything makes sense from their point of view.
The most fascinating element of the book comes from experiencing familiar events not only from the perspective of secondary characters, but also from the “wrong” side of the Galactic Civil War. This element also plays into the major themes, as Thane and Ciena struggle with the ideas of convention and rebellion, as well as love and sacrifice. In the words of Ciena, “Sometimes we’re loyal to more than one thing. When there’s a conflict, we have to choose which loyalty to honor.”
Lost Stars by Claudia Gray is one of the strongest new additions to the Star Wars canon. While the book ends on a cliff-hanger, it does suggest that a sequel is forthcoming. I eagerly await the next installment.