Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell, two new characters introduced a Claudia Gray’s book set in “Star Wars” universe, are rumored to be Rey’s parents. If you’ve seen The Force Awakens, this rumor will pique your interest, since one of the biggest mysteries the film leaves unsolved is Rey’s parentage. We know she was abandoned by her family on the planet of Jakku for years. Rey’s natural piloting skills and affinity for the Force raised eyebrows. It’s one of the many things the movie left me wondering about, so the next obvious step–according to the Internet–was to check out “Lost Stars,” which chronicles a decades-long relationship between two extremely gifted pilots who find themselves on opposing sides of a war.
Beginning before A New Hope and ending a couple of years after Return of the Jedi, “Lost Stars” covers a lot of territory and familiar main events. We meet Ciena and Thane as children in an Outer Rim planet called Jelucan. Their love for aircrafts and piloting caused the two kids from different cultures and backgrounds to instantly bond. Growing up, they spent as much time as they could together, learning to fly, divulging each other’s secrets, and studying hard to be accepted in one of the best Imperial air academies. Ultimately, Ciena and Thane’s paths diverge, and their loyalties are greatly tested as a full-blown war between the Rebel Alliance, led by Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, and the Empire kicks off.
“Lost Stars” won’t give the answers many are looking for, especially if they’re reading this in hopes of discovering more about Rey. However, what it does do is provide a much-needed new perspective on the “star wars.” Through Ciena and Thane’s eyes, we see the ramifications of the war between the Empire and Rebel Alliance for the non-chosen ones.
It’s a perspective that’s easy to forget when caught up with the heroism and political intrigue that characters like Luke, Leia, Han Solo and Vader faced. Gray unfolds a new story that grounds the original trilogy’s plot and makes us recognize the least heroic parts of a war, such as the loss of innocent lives, rampant propaganda and corruption that grows from unchecked power. Not for one minute does the novel side with the Empire, clearly the evil side of this war; yet it isn’t blinded by the overly idealized beliefs of the Rebel Alliance. It provides a fine balance between two warring groups and the natural consequences that have been a little too glossed over in the main story.
For those looking for a bit of romance, the star-crossed lovers’ relationship is a major aspect of the novel. Despite spending long spans of time and distance apart, the bond between Ciena and Thane is unbreakable. It’s hard not to see why people would theorize that they would create someone as amazing as Rey. While they aren’t Jedi, it can be argued that the Force plays a big unseen role in the strength of their connection. But does the novel offer solid proof to that theory? It does not. In fact, it ends at a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more. (At time of publication, a sequel to “Lost Stars” has not be announced.)
Finally, the writing itself lacked a distinct style, something of which I’ve become used to with the author’s other novels. I’m not sure if that was because Gray joins many other authors in writing about the “Star Wars” universe. This style of writing relies more on characterization and nostalgia, and for someone who isn’t so enamored with the original trilogy, it can be painstaking to follow at times. Nevertheless, it gets credit for adding a new layer to the old story and possibly the new one as well. Time will tell if there’s more to Ciena and Thane’s story, but after going on this journey with them, it is difficult to imagine that “Lost Stars” is already the end for them.
“Lost Stars” by Claudia Gray is now available wherever books are sold.