Book Review: ‘Into the Dark’ by Claudia Gray

February 4, 2021 at 9:28 am | Posted in Books, Disney Lucasfilm Publishing, Reviews, Star Wars, Star Wars Books | Leave a comment
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Into the Dark is a YA book that is part of The High Republic initiative, written by Claudia Gray and released in February 2021.

I want to start by saying that I think that Claudia Gray is a fantastic writer. Master and Apprentice and Bloodline are two of my favorite canon novels. I personally think she is best when writing her adult novels. I thought that Leia Princess of Alderaan was a fantastic book and Lost Stars was a great read. Claudia definitely has the best track record of any of the newer authors in the canon.

Unfortunately, Into the Dark is probably her weakest novel, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.

Into the Dark suffers from what I think is a loss of the “Star Wars Magic”. Every book in Star Wars needs to have a certain quality that draws the reader in, makes it different from the other books, and yet feels the same. All of Claudia’s other books have had this. But it just feels like a bunch of great ideas combined that just feels mediocre.

Regarding the characters, they are very relatable. Reath Silas is probably the most relatable character I’ve ever read in Star Wars because he’d rather stay in the library all day and read (sounds amazing). Events cause him and some other Jedi to work with Affie, a young hard working member of the Byne Guild, and Leox Gyasi, a Matthew McConaughey type smuggler captain. Each of the characters felt unique and had something new to contribute to the story.

The plot also seemed interesting. The Jedi and company are stranded on a space station in the middle of the galaxy after “The Great Disaster” with several other ships and species. The group finds new allies, and new enemies. The plot’s idea is great, but the poor pacing of the book made it difficult for me to want to keep reading. I found myself easily distracted and putting the book down more often

However, where this book has some problems resides in it’s execution. There were some amazing twists that I just didn’t see coming, the overall story felt long and dragged out. This seemed like a book where it could have been about 100 pages shorter and it would have actually been better (and I advocate for longer books normally). I believe that this may have been an editorial problem as there were certain things that had to be included in this book to set up other High Republic adventures and to expand the worldbuilding of the timeline. Oftentimes I love this aspect of books, but here it felt forced.  

The book’s ideas are great but the poor pacing of the book made it difficult for me to want to keep reading. I found myself easily distracted and putting the book down more often than I normally do. There wasn’t a “spark” that kept me diving in. 

Another hallmark of Young Adult books, particularly in Star Wars, is the idea of romance. There are definitely some themes and overtones that deal with romance, but it just doesn’t work for me, and therefore some of the events that happened later in the book didn’t feel as impactful.

If I can end on a good note, it’s that I did enjoy the overall story and I loved where the characters ended up. There are rumblings that Claudia Gray has another book coming out eventually, and I hope she gets to continue with the characters she used in this book.

Overall, I thought that this was a solid book, but was unfortunately one of Claudia’s weakest books. She is still one of my favorite canon authors, and I will eagerly await any future books she writes, but this one just felt “meh”. Into the Dark gets, for me, 3.5 out of 5.

Reviewed By: Jonathan Koan for Roqoo Depot.

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