My husband and I were really surprised to learn that this novel was marketed as Young Adult after we’d read it. We both thought this novel was better than many adult STAR WARS books we’ve read over the years!
It’s obvious from the beginning that the novel is a take on the Romeo & Juliet trope, but it never falls into the realm of stereotype. The two main characters and their respective cultures are detailed and well-rounded, and it’s always a plus to see a planet in a science-fiction universe that contains more than one society.
One of my favorite aspects of the novel was the way it intertwined with the events of the original trilogy, including the destruction of both Death Stars. The way that the book’s characters were involved was never contrived. And for most of the book, those events were from the perspective of characters within the Empire. Gray gives Imperial soldiers lives and backstories, making them three-dimensional characters rather than cardboard bad guys. She puts a human face on the rank and file.
One thing I was worried about when I realized that the star-crossed lovers would be on the opposite sides of the war was that the Empire-affiliated character would become less sympathetic and make the relationship forced. Gray uses effective world-building to avoid that pitfall, letting me to still root for both the character’s own personal evolution and a realistic happily ever after.
(Note that I said “realistic” there. This was not a traditional happy ending, which made me give the book so many more bonus points.)
I don’t believe that reading this novel before seeing THE FORCE AWAKENS is necessary, but some events toward the end of the story will probably contribute some backstory to a location featured in the movie, adding depth.
Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars