Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray is a Young Adult Extended Universe Star Wars novel.
Star Wars was my favorite thing as a kid. I watched the movies over and over. I played with the toys. I dressed up as Darth Vader (on normal days, not just Halloween). But I didn’t get into EVERYTHING Star Wars-y. I did not bother to read the many, many spin-off novels or comic books. I pretty much just stuck with the movies and my imagination, even as I got older and more movies were released. The lackluster prequels and sequels didn’t exactly spark a greater interest in that galaxy far, far away.
However, the Disney+ show The Mandalorian got some good buzz, so I watched it. I liked it. Wanting more good Star Wars content, I checked out the cartoon series Rebels (also available for streaming on Disney+). I loved it. I wanted even more Star Wars content, particularly stories set in the early days of the rebellion (the same setting as Rebels), and preferably featuring Leia, a hero of mine since I was in pre-school. I chose the YA novel Leia, Princess of Alderaan to scratch that itch.
I loved it!
What is it about?
The events of the book take place when Princess Leia is about to turn 16 years old. It details her first diplomatic missions, her social experiences of that time period, and the early days of the Rebellion.
What is this book like?
The book is written in a YA style, with simple, clear, direct language. The language is not particularly pretty, but neither is it dull or repetitive. It’s a fun, action-y read that can be knocked out pretty quickly.
It has recently come to my attention that some readers are particular about point-of-view, so for those that care about such things, this book is written from a third-person limited point-of-view, sticking close to Leia.
For those that like comparisons, the book feels like the Rebels show mixed with, I dunno, Red Rising, with a little dash of Harry Potter at age 15.
What’s awesome about this book?
Leia. She’s smart and strong, with a passionate sense of justice. And a temper. I could certainly see the beginnings of the young princess we meet in A New Hope in this book.
I enjoyed learning more about the beginnings of the Rebellion. People (and by people, I mean me) forget that it was the Rebel Alliance, and I appreciated the additional details about who formed the alliance, how they did it, and why.
Ultimately, it’s the “why” answers that made me fall for this book. In providing those details, the book describes the economic, social, and political policies of the Empire, and how they are oppressive and devastating. It describes how the Empire actually worked and why people would actually join it and why others would fight against it. Those details all made sense to me, and the narrative was never dragged down or slowed by their inclusion. I feel like Leia, Princess of Alderaan is therefore essential reading for anyone that wants a deeper understanding of the Star Wars universe. Or anyone that wants a basic understanding of the nature of complicity in a morally bankrupt political and/or economic system.
What sucks about this book?
Every now and then, Leia leans a little hard into Leia being a teenager, and it comes off kind of cliched (simplistic anger at lack of attention, etc.).
A character from the sequel movies is also introduced, and she is a bit of a knockoff of Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books. I did not really get that vibe from the character in the movie she appeared in. The discrepancy caused a little bit of dissonance in my brain. That’s a minor gripe, though.
If you like Star Wars, at all, read this. It’s a cleanly written, action-packed, neat little early character study of a major, hugely important figure in the Star Wars universe (and pop culture).
TLDR: Read this book if you:
- love Star Wars and want more
- wonder what was so bad about the Empire
- love Princess Leia
TLDR: Avoid this book if you:
- only read Literature
- do not read YA stuff
- have never seen Star Wars IV: A New Hope
Watch Rebels for more young Leia and early Rebellion stuff!
My Rating: 5 Stars