Lost Stars by Claudia Gray is undeniably a book aimed at Star Wars fans. Many major battles from the original trilogy feature in the story and there are offhand references to events, locations, and characters from the films. Without a good recollection of the films, I imagine the book would get extremely confusing. If you are familiar with the original three Star Wars films, the book makes an enjoyable read.
The story spans more than a decade, staring several years before the events of A New Hope and continuing on for more than a year after the end of Return of the Jedi. It is a story of childhood friends turned lovers Ciena and Thane who end up on opposite sides of the war. That is the premise of the book and is given on the blurb, so I don’t feel it counts as a spoiler here, but it takes a very long time for the story to reach that point. Early chapters focus on their friendship, on trying to get into the Imperial Academy, on their training, on them becoming military officers and taking up their duties. It feels like it takes a very long time for the plot to start happening.
However, I’m not sure that’s a criticism. The slow build lets us see the relationship between Ciena and Thane. It lets us get to know them as people – how they work together and when they disagree. The length of time we see them as allies makes their later actions feel more plausible.
I was impressed with the character building, particularly of Ciena. The author did a brilliant job of creating a character who could seem noble and heroic, even idealistic, but who could plausibly fight for the Empire. Her decisions to stay with the Empire, first to keep her oath and then later to protect her family from repercussions should she dessert, felt very real. The motivations and desires of both characters are clear and compelling.
For a story that takes place in a war, a lot more emphasis was placed on the characters than the action. It feels more of an emotional romance than an adventure story. The characters in this book are new, with only passing mention being given to the main characters of the films.
I did enjoy this book, but I feel the appeal will be limited to those who are already fans of the Star Wars films.