I waited way too long to read this book! Until recently, I had no idea what it was actually about. Lost Stars deals with the stories of Ciena and Thane, two friends from the planet Jelucan who become lovers, serving the Empire together as Imperial officers. But something goes wrong, and one of them joins the Rebel Alliance, leaving them on opposing sides. This sounded really interesting, and I have read some of Claudia Gray’s other YA books. So when I found Lost Stars for $5.98 in the bargain section at my local Barnes & Noble, I decided to give it a try. When reading, it doesn’t feel like Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars books, but it definitely feels like Claudia Gray. I’m so glad I gave it a try!
Pacing & World-Building
Claduia Gray is certainly skilled at pacing and world-building. The events of this book mainly coincide with the events of the original trilogy, as well as after the Battle of Endor. I think Gray does an impressive job covering such a long time-span.
Gray really demonstrates her knowledge of the different worlds, and I didn’t feel overwhelmed when introduced to the planet Jelucan. She did a fantastic job incorporating a lot of cultural rituals and other details that painted a clear picture of the planet in my mind. The game of lizard-toad-snake was a nice touch! (The Jelucan version of rock-paper-scissors.)
I was also fascinated that we get a glimpse into the lives of Imperial officers. The movies mainly focused on the “good guys,” so it was really interesting to get this other perspective.
Overall, the book felt a bit long. It is, after all, 551 pages, so it does require some patience to get through. But I do think the effort is worth it.
Claudia Gray can write some great characters. One of the things I love about the characters is that we get to see inside their heads, which creates great emotional depth. Even though Thane and Ciena are on opposite sides, each of their perspectives feels right to them. We get to see where the two of them are coming from. Gray skillfully makes us feel compassion for both a Rebel and an Imperial officer, which is quite an accomplishment.
Here’s one exchange between Thane and Ciena that I really enjoyed:
[Thane:] “Two. We travel the galaxy as drummer and exotic dancer.”
She [Ciena] raised her eyebrows. “Excuse me, but I’m not becoming an exotic dancer.”
[Thane:] “Who said you were? I’ll do the dancing. You get the drum.”
I mean, what other guy could pull off a joke like that? Both Thane and Ciena really demonstrate character growth over the span of the novel and have to overcome some pretty huge obstacles.
Their strong principles of duty, loyalty, and honor really stand out. I found it really interesting that their principles were actually their main sources of contention:
[Ciena:] “If there’s any chance that the good in the Empire can outweigh the bad, then it’s our duty to preserve it.”
[Thane:] “The Empire’s rotten to the core. It’s our duty to destroy it.”
Nash was a great side character. Even the super-scientific Jude was a great side character:
[June:] “Science is the study of the entire material universe. Therefore everything is science – whether you see it or not.”
Despite how much I liked the characters, I was slightly annoyed with Ciena by the end. After everything the Empire did to her, it was rather frustrating that she remained “steadfast” for sooo long for honor’s sake.
Also, the Force didn’t seem very prominent for most of the book. The Force does come into play a little stronger near the end. However, for a lot of the book, I forgot that the Force was a thing in this world. Could it be because Jedi were not the main characters of this story? Perhaps. I do think that is one aspect Gray could’ve played up more. But, overall, I am satisfied with the ending. Anyone have any other thoughts or comments?