Star Wars: The High Republic: Into the Dark

Disney/Lucasfilm. Feb. 2021. 448p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781368057288.
Gr 7 Up–Gray drops readers into a perfectly spine-chilling survival story in this “High Republic” YA novel. Two hundred years before the Skywalker Saga, Padawan Reath and his Jedi Master Jora are assigned to Starlight, a beacon for the Republic in frontier space. Before they and the rest of their companions get there, the ship is forced out of hyperspace and dropped into an unknown system. With disaster imminent and communication almost impossible, the Jedi take charge of the survivors and seek shelter in a mysterious, abandoned space station—only to realize as they explore that the Dark side got there first. The station’s arboretum has overgrown most of the complex, which is ominous enough, but there are also mysterious idols hiding in the tangled vines and disturbing the Force. Gray’s worldbuilding and characters are “Star Wars” at its best, introducing readers to the familiar canon with High Republic flavor. The work is told from multiple points of view and in two time lines. Reath is indisputably the protagonist, working his way from recalcitrant archivist to stalwart Knight. The novel features not one but two burgeoning supervillains, and Gray manages the stakes and the emotional tension of the heroes flawlessly. Reath is white; there is non-alien diversity in the secondary characters.
VERDICT Perfect for even casual fans, this novel is action-packed with adventure and mystery. With “Star Wars” interest at an all-time high, this is recommended for general purchase.

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