Title: Star Wars The High Republic: Into the Dark
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press
Age Range: Young Adult
Release Date: February 2nd, 2021
Ancient secrets. A coming-of-age tale. Action sequences. Abandoned space stations and plant-protecting droids… The High Republic: Into the Dark highlights a mission where everything seems to go wrong and one misconception after another threatens the world as a whole. So, what are you waiting for?
The first young adult book in The High Republic series focuses on a young Jedi who favors his studies over fighting:
Padawan Reath Silas is being sent from the cosmopolitan galactic capital of Coruscant to the undeveloped frontier—and he couldn’t be less happy about it. He’d rather stay at the Jedi Temple, studying the archives. But when the ship he’s traveling on is knocked out of hyperspace in a galactic-wide disaster, Reath finds himself at the center of the action. The Jedi and their traveling companions find refuge on what appears to be an abandoned space station. But then strange things start happening, leading the Jedi to investigate the truth behind the mysterious station, a truth that could end in tragedy….
Yes. There IS a Wookie Baby
The Star Wars franchise is absolutely bursting at the seams with memorable characters that make us love or loathe them. Master of the Star Wars novel, Claudia Gray, has created a cast of characters that completely stand on their own in The High Republic: Into the Dark. Reath is a great Jedi that would rather study archives than master a saber, and his interactions with the rest of the crew are just superb. Geode and Leox are my personal favorite, but all of the main cast lend a unique air to this galactic tale.
Into the Dark is a bit of a rollercoaster, and that is definitely meant as a complement. This tale is told with a wicked sense of humor that had me chuckling out loud only to be gasping in surprise a few moments later. Gray’s effortless craft is obvious in her tone and style, especially in the beginning and during the climax of the novel.
There’s A Disturbance in Into the Dark
A novel that tells its story from the perspective of different characters definitely needs a well-developed cast. And while Into the Dark has that covered, its switching perspectives does it more harm than good. Not only does the book switch between narrators, but it also switches in timelines. There is a clear indication of when the story of the past begins, but there’s no clear indication of when the story returns to the present day. This combined with the nearly constant switching in perspectives makes it nearly impossible to find an anchor in the story. I often found myself somewhat lost or having to glance back to make sure of where I was.
And while the switching of perspectives allows for a deeper look into the individual stories of Reath and the gang, it starts to lose the greater plot at the time. All of the smaller interactions paired with the story of the past while also trying to understand the greater plot makes Into the Dark overwhelming to read. Especially as it nears the end of the novel. This is really disappointing because it doesn’t seem likes there’s a true pay-off for all of their convoluted plot lines. It felt like the novel could have been 100 pages shorter and told a more centered story.
Star Wars The High Republic: Into the Dark is available, physically and digitally, on February 2nd, 2021. As of this writing, Light of the Jedi, A Test of Courage, and The Great Jedi Rescue are also available.
Verdict: At the start, I was super into The High Republic: Into the Dark. It introduces fans to a cast of characters that are not only likable but also seem new and fresh to the franchise. There’s is nothing stereotypical about this group of galactic adventurers. On top of that, the story blends different genre elements effortlessly. I could be laughing at one sentence, then gasping at the next. However, Into the Dark‘s shifting perspective and jumping timelines make it really difficult to anchor into the story, which made it difficult to get a good grasp on what was going on. If you’re willing to take your time, this is definitely an interesting addition to the High Republic series!