8) Lost Stars
Don’t let Star Wars: Lost Stars’ young adult label turn you off. Claudia Gray’s novel is a beautiful work of science-fiction that both expands upon the films and functions as its own self-contained narrative.
Beginning eight years after the fall of the Galactic Republic, the book follows two friends, Thane and Ciena, who grow up on the Outer Rim planet of Jelucan. Despite different backgrounds, they bond over a love of flying and eventually begin training together at the Imperial Academy on Coruscant in sequences reminiscent of Ender’s Game. But following the destruction of Alderaan, their relationship is in crisis as Ciena remains loyal to the Empire but Thane considers joining the Rebel Alliance.
Lost Stars is sort of like the Forrest Gump of the Star Wars saga; our characters constantly find themselves wrapped up in the series’ memorable events, so readers can revisit the original trilogy with the knowledge that Thane and Ciena are hanging out just off screen.
This could be the tale of any random Imperial officer, a fact that adds complexity to the movies. We’re confronted with the idea that even though Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine are pure evil, the average soldier working for the Empire is just an innocent kid who wants to protect the galaxy. Keep that in mind the next time you cheer on the Death Star explosion.
The final stretch ties directly into The Force Awakens, giving backstory to the battle that occurred over Rey’s home planet of Jakku and specifically focusing on the Star Destroyer she explores in her first scene. But even if you removed every single reference to the Star Wars movies, Lost Stars would still be a compelling novel in its own right, full of sympathetic characters and a romance that feels so very genuine.
This is one of the finest Star Wars stories ever told, ranking up there with even the films themselves.