“Lost Stars” by Claudia Gray is a young adult novel that tells the story of Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree. Set in the Star Wars universe, the two characters bond over their passion for flying. They both begin their training as cadets for the Galactic Empire, but when Thane deserts and joins the rebellion, Ciena feels both betrayed and confused. Despite being on opposite sides of the war, their bond persists through the hardships.
This novel is a fantastic addition to the Star Wars canon and consists of completely new characters that aren’t shown in the movies. The main characters, Ciena and Thane, come from the Outer Rim planet of Jelucan.
Ciena is known as a First Waver villager, while Thane is a more privileged Second Waver aristocrat. When the Second Waver settlers arrived at Jelucan, the First Wavers were forced to move into the valley, where Ciena now lives.
Despite their completely different economic backgrounds, the two characters become best friends and pursue their dreams of becoming pilots together. It’s interesting to explore the concepts of economic disparity and colonization in the Star Wars universe, something unique from what’s seen in the movies.
What this story does best is humanize the workers of the Empire. In the movies, the stormtroopers are portrayed as machine-like servants who follow the Emperor’s command. However, “Lost Stars” does a great job of giving readers a behind-the-scenes look to the original trilogy.
We learn about the brutal training process to become an imperial officer and are able to understand why someone would pledge their loyalty to the cruel, tyrannic Empire.
Readers also gain a different viewpoint of famous scenes shown in the original trilogy movies.
We see events like Alderaan’s destruction through the eyes of an imperial officer, and we learn that characters like Ciena were also horrified by the mass genocide of an entire planet (despite her undying loyalty to the Empire). Gray also adds fun easter eggs for fans to pick up on and small appearances of familiar characters like Princess Leia.
Thane and Ciena’s characterization is fantastic throughout the novel. We begin their story when they are only children and continuously watch them grow into mature adults.
Like real relationships, they disagree on a multitude of things, and we as readers are able to feel their emotions during both the good and bad times. Their relationship is built up so well and realistically, and during the main climax, audience members are truly able to feel the intense stakes and emotions of the two characters.
With themes of loyalty and trust, “Lost Stars” makes us question the importance of oaths and our authority figures along with the characters. While the ending felt a bit anti-climactic (since the story as a whole seemed to be building up to something bigger), the novel was still both well-rounded and touching. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and I would absolutely love to see Claudia Gray continue Thane and Ciena’s story with a sequel.