Book Review: “Leia: Princess of Alderaan” by Claudia Gray

I’ll admit that although I love the Star Wars films (I mean, who doesn’t?!), I’ve never read a Star Wars novel, though I know lots of readers who swear by them. Before The Force Awakens was released in 2015, bringing Star Wars back to the forefront of pop culture, George Lucas’s universe was alive and well on the page, with novels about every conceivable aspect of the franchise fans could ask for. There were some Star Wars novels about the major characters from the films, but just as common, if not more so, were stories about characters who never made an on-screen appearance. I may be late to the game, but I couldn’t resist the chance to read YA superstar Claudia Gray’s novelization of Princess Leia’s teenage years.

The book opens on The Day of Demand, a special ceremony in which the heir presumptive must demand her right to be named the heir of Alderaan. On this day, Leia pledges to complete three tasks – one of the Body, one of the Mind, and one of the Heart – after which she will officially be declared heir. The rest of the book follows Leia as she undertakes her tasks in what proves to be a compelling adventure. Fans of the movies (so, again…pretty much everyone) will easily spot hints of the forthcoming unrest of A New Hope in the novel’s pages, but it also stands alone as its own story – and a great read.

Even though Leia: Princess of Alderaan is about Leia and not Carrie Fisher, Fisher brought so much of herself to the iconic character that it’s hard not to hear her voice in some of the book’s dialogue – a sign that Gray has done her work very well indeed. Gray’s version of Leia feels like the character we already know and love rather than someone else who’s simply been given the same name. It’s a treat to get to spend some time with one of my favorite characters in all of Star Wars, and I will be hightailing it to a bookstore to get a copy of Gray’s Bloodline, a novel about Leia that takes place a few years before the events of The Force Awakens.

Really devoted fans will be excited to know that Leia: Princess of Alderaan is part of the franchise’s “Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and purportedly contains clues about the upcoming film. I’m terrible at spotting things like this, so I probably won’t understand the clues Gray has laid until after I see the movie, but many of you will likely fare better!

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.