Princess Leia Organa has been a long time hero of mine. I have always adored her tenacity, her courage, her intelligence, and her flaming temper that always results in getting shit done.
It is perhaps because of my intense love of Star Wars that I didn’t particularly enjoy this book, and I want to put a spoiler warning right here at the start. This review will also contain minor spoilers for The Last Jedi.
This is your last chance.
So to start of with the book itself, my first issue arose with the dialogue. I have loved Claudia Gray’s books in the past, but this was my first time reading one of her Star Wars books. The franchise is known for it’s awkward and clunky dialogue riddled with formalities and fictional political or mechanical terminology and Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan should be privy to such silly formalities and procedures. However, she talks like a regular teenage girl would in any other YA novel and she refers to her parents as “Mom” and “Dad/Daddy”. Say what you will, but Leia would never call her parents as such. It would be mother and father. End of discussion.
I understand that the language of Star Wars is not always the most accessible and simplifying it makes sense, but changing the way a character talks all together defeats the purpose of it being Star Wars.
Despite the dialogue, I didn’t mind Gray’s portrayal of Leia. At least not much. It was work for me to constantly remind myself that the Leia I’m used to – from the original novels, movies, and Extended Universe – the Leia that didn’t know she was adopted, but that’s my responsibility, not the author’s. Her friends were entertaining, her love interest not entirely bland, but there were some characters that I cannot forgive.
For those reading, who may not know, Captain Quarsh Panaka – Moff Panaka in this book – was a royal guard of Naboo who guarded generations of Queens that included Queen Padmé Amidala. He cared for that girl even when she wasn’t a senator and risked his life to protect the Republic and defend the views of people like Padmé even once she was no longer a monarch. In this novel, he is an Imperial Moff who’s loyalties lie with Palpatine.
Panaka lies with people like Padmé. And people like Padmé lie with people like Bail and Breha Organa. There is not a chance in the entire galaxy that Panaka would work in such a position without being an agent against the Empire planted by those who believe in a better way of life. I refuse to believe someone like him would have given up everything he used to fight for in order to have a position of power on Naboo that resulted in taking away the power of the monarchy.
What I did like in this novel was Amlyin Holdo. I was really glad that I read this before seeing the film and – after months of avoiding everything I could about Episode VIII – meeting Holdo again as an adult was great. She was this lanky, weird girl always looking to be different and to stand out, but that’s what made her a solid character. Leia helping her to realize that her aggressive motions to oppose every tradition of her home world helped shape Amlyin into the person I saw as a Vice Admiral. Two strong women not listening to hot headed men and going through with their plans, put together from moments in their youth, it was phenomenal. It was a really excellent way to tie this novel into The Last Jedi.
By the end of the book, I was only emotional about it because I finished on the anniversary that Carrie Fisher died. I miss my Princess so much and I was happy to have more of Leia’s story told – even if it wasn’t my favourite. To be entirely honest, the only part I was truly excited over was the random, subtle cameo appearance from Director Orson Krennic. If you know anything about me, it’s that I adore Orson Krennic.
Would I recommend this book? Not if you’re a Star Wars fan. However, if you’re new to the series it might be worth a shot. It wasn’t a terrible story so I won’t warn people against it, but as someone who has very literally grown up surrounded by classic Star Wars, it wasn’t my favourite.
Final Rating: ★★½
Published: September 1, 2017
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press
Summary: The story of how young Leia Organa comes to join the rebellion against the evil Empire, from New York Times best-selling author Claudia Gray.