Star Wars: Leia by Claudia Gray – A Book Review

Claudia Gray completely won me over with Lost Stars, so I’ll read anything written by her now if it pertains to Star Wars.  I initially felt a little strange as a forty-year-old man reading a book about a sixteen-year-old princess, but because it’s Leia, I forged ahead.  I mean, after all, she is one of the best characters in the Star Wars mythology.

Gray sets this book slightly before Rogue One.  Leia must go through a rite of passage in order to proclaim her readiness to one day be queen, and so she declares three challenges to overcome.  She’s also serving as a junior member of the Senate.  Finally, she’s got a bit of a love story too involving another junior senator.

But, none of that is what this book is really about.  This book is all about establishing Leia as one of the galaxy’s greatest freedom fighters.  You’ll witness her slowly discover her parents’ role with the upstart Rebels, and you’ll finally get to know Bail and Breha Organa as the heroes they are.  This is the first time I ever really cared about Bail, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Breha, her adopted mother, depicted before.  Furthermore, you’ll realize Alderaan was not quite the random target we all believed.

There are some truly tense moments, like when one person in particular seems to recognize Leia’s genetics.  We have appearances by Mon Mothma, Grand Moff Tarkin, the planet Naboo, Wedge Antilles, C3PO, R2D2, and even a reference to Obi Wan Kenobi himself.  The Emperor is a constant presence, and that presence is stifling as his grip tightens across the galaxy.

Ever wonder why a princess is able to handle a blaster so well?  How she can adapt to any environment?  Why she’s just so damn tough!  This book answers all of that.

We even learn specifically why the Organa’s adopted to begin with.

But this book does not function as a plot check-list.  Gray has a fluid, logical story with this book.  She weaves in some great treats for fans, but they never deter or detract from the overall plot.

Leia’s love story in this book didn’t especially compel me, but even it lays the groundwork for why Han Solo would be so appealing to Leia.  Everything in this work serves a purpose.

By far, though, the book flourishes most when it addresses the birth of the Rebellion.  It does not shy away from the complexities of rebelling against authority, and it’s especially strong as the characters themselves realize no rebellion can remain bloodless.

If you’re a Star Wars fan, I think seeing the Organas, in this new light will prove fascinating.

 

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(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

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Swingin the Clown – My Latest (Creepy) Short Story

Swingin the Clown: A Short Story by [Foley, Scott William ]

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As usual, Sadie peeks out the back window before going to bed. This night, though, a clown sits upon their swings. Against her husband’s wishes, she confronts the stranger. She will wish she hadn’t. (Horror)

Shade, the Changing Girl: Vol. 1 by Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone – A Book Review

If you’re looking for weird, Shade, the Changing Girl is for you.  As part of DC Comics’ Young Animal imprint, author Cecil Castellucci is unafraid to make this book as strange a trip as possible.  However, as odd as it is, at the core, it’s still a story of self-discovery and independent choice.

Fan of previous Shade iterations will recognize several familiar aspects.  For example, Meta is still alive and well, Rac Shade’s persona is very much a part of the book, and the madness coat remains integral.

Things are different this time around, though, in that an alien, birdlike creature named Loma steals the madness coat in an effort to enliven her own existence.  She ends up possessing a brain-damaged young woman on Earth and living this girl’s life.  Unfortunately, she quickly discovers that the original owner of the body  led a dark existence, one Loma doesn’t necessarily want to continue.

The artist, Marley Zarcone, lives up to Castellucci’s bonkers script with equally bonkers art.  Though cartoonish in style, Zarcone delivers surrealistic panels that absolutely maintain an unstable tone.  I think it’s also important to mention Zarcone’s attention to detail.  One panel features an utterly mundane moment – two kids walking along a sidewalk through a residential neighborhood.  Something caught my attention, though.  Zarcone included grass growing between the cracks of the sidewalk.  Though not substantial to the overall story, that sort of nuance really won me over.

Finally, Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors are the perfect compliment to Castellucci and Zarcone.  Though almost primary in terms of hue, Fitzpatrick makes sure to include interesting patterns in most of her panels.  I don’t know enough about the medium to get specific about the kinds of patterns, but you will rarely see a solid background color in this book.  That small touch adds depth to an already carefully constructed book.

Shade, the Changing Girl is not the stuff of super heroes.  It’s also not full of action or violence, though there is always an atmosphere of potential danger.  However, it bursts with story, mystery, and evolving characters.  If you like that sort of thing with a heavy coating of weird, this book is for you.

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(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)