Lost Stars
Claudia Gray
Penguin/Random House Audio
Narrated by Pierce Cravens
Lost Stars is one of the new Star Wars novels that does what I like best about the new Expanded Universe.  Following two aspiring young pilots from the backwater mountain world of Jelucan, it updates the events of the original Star Wars movies with delightful new characters and fresh perspectives.
Marketed as a YA Romance, it follows the relationship of of Ciena Ree, a peasant girl from Jelucan’s valley settlement, and Thane Kyrell, the son of an urbane, upperclass ‘Second Wave’ family from childhood friendship to budding war-time lovers, and finally to conflicted enemies as they find themselves caught on opposite sides of the Rebellion.  Thane, awakened to the Empire’s cruelty, defects to the rebels, but Ciena, bound by a strong sense of honor, stays at her post.
Much like Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath, Gray infuses a sense of darkness and nuance into the new Star Wars cannon that is both welcome and refreshing.  She spends a significant portion of the book following Ree and her fellow Imperial officers throughout the events of the film trilogy.  She does a great job giving these characters a human face and exploring the hard choices that living under a military dictatorship necessitates.  Furthermore, she manages to thread the needle of doing so without excusing the atrocities and loss of life that result from those choices.
I experienced this book as an audio book via audible.com  Narrator Pierce Cravenss does an excellent job with the text, bringing characters to life without slipping into exaggerated voices.  He is supported by a mix that incorporates moments of the films’ iconic scores and sound effects.
Star Wars has always worked with romance at its heart.  Ciena and Thane’s story is a worthy addition to the canon for new and old fans alike.  This is one flight I heartily recommend.

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