This is NOT a Review: Claudia Gray’s BLOODLINE

Bloodline-coverThere’s a weird disconnect, reading this.

Don’t get me wrong: I was REALLY looking forward to it. So much so that when I finished reading my last book (Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories) the Saturday before Bloodline was released, I didn’t start anything new because I wanted to open the box on Tuesday and start reading immediately. I’d heard high praise for this book, and I really didn’t need convincing to give it a go, as I had adored Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars, and couldn’t wait to see some pieces of the story filled in between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

So what’s the problem?

I’ve run into this with the comics, even before the Expanded Universe was relegated to the Legends line: the problem for me is that the stories about Han, Luke, and Leia that take place during the original trilogy and all those years after Return of the Jedi?

I’ve read them. It doesn’t matter that it’s no longer canon (or, lately, that it is): I have read so many takes on Han, Luke, and Leia and their lives and thoughts before, during, and after the original trilogy that it’s hard to read anything with fresh eyes. It’s even more disconcerting to now read about the official canon of Han and Leia’s marriage, when I’ve got the EU take firmly lodged in my brain (as well as the EU take on the New Republic, and Luke’s Jedi Academy, so on and so forth). It takes up a lot of real estate, and it’s not something that’s easy to wipe away.

1484724984.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_Am I an EU purist? Oh hell no. I’d fallen out of love with the EU long before Disney bought Star Wars, because I got tired of Luke, Han, Leia, and their families never getting peace, of never having a happy ending. I got tired of what felt like soap opera-esque machinations that took place in order for there to be GREAT CONFLICT. I was, in fact, relieved when Disney said they would ignore the EU and make that a Legends canon and start afresh. Star Wars, as a franchise, needed that do-over, and I applauded the decision whole-heartedly.

Yes, that meant saying good-bye to Mara Jade. To Jaina Solo. To other characters I’d known and loved. But it also meant saying good-bye to the machinations that kept them in turmoil, and I could live with that.

I loved The Force Awakens. Wait, let me clarify: I loved the film, but I hated the novelization with a passion.

And you know what?

I read Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath. Loved it. Read Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars. Absolutely freaking adored it.

You know what The Force Awakens, Aftermath, and Lost Stars have in common?

Those aren’t the stories of Han, Luke, and Leia. Yes, the original three play important roles in The Force Awakens, and that’s wonderful. But the two books? Those characters are ancillary, allowing brand new characters to step into the limelight and shine. The Star Wars universe is so very vast, and there are so many stories to tell within it. Those are the stories I haven’t been reading for twenty-plus years. Those are the stories that I find I’m craving now.

aftermath_new.6.red_That doesn’t mean I won’t read the books about Han, Luke, and Leia, even if Bloodline taught me that I miss having the map of the galaxy in the front of the books, with planet names I’ve grown to know and recognize. I miss knowing what the universe feels like on the page, miss having a specific timeline to refer back to (oh, sure we have the START of a timeline in the new books, but it’s not very specific, not like the old one was). I miss knowing exactly where Han, Luke, and Leia were in their lives, even if I disagreed with a particular author’s take on their characters.

I love learning what happened to make the universe into the place it is in The Force Awakens. And as long as the books are as well-written as Gray’s Bloodline, I’m going to keep reading to keep learning more.

But it’s going to be an adjustment. It’ll take time, and probably a lot more books before my brain stops comparing the now official canon to the old one.

As Yoda says, I must unlearn what I have learned.

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