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Young Adult Literature

May The Force Be With YA: YA Star Wars Novel Round-Up

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Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

It wasn’t until I was in junior high, eighth grade precisely, when I watched my first Star Wars film. I remember virtually nothing of the movie, except that I was watching it with a guy who was a good friend of mine and the guy who, at the time, was a boyfriend. They informed me watching the series was a rite of passage and while I petered out after the first film, The Phantom Menace hit theaters later that school year, and I saw it in theaters twice.

Star Wars has always been on the periphery of my experience, but it was never something that I wholly invested in personally. I have friends and family who are fervent fans. I’ve, on the other hand, absorbed the references enough to understand and appreciate them.

Of course, when something as culturally powerful as Star Wars finds its way anew in YA literature, it seems only right to take it on. And on Star Wars Day, no less.

Enjoy this round-up of recent YA novelizations and retellings that are part of the Star Wars universe; some are canon and some, as noted, are retellings. I’ve only dug into the books that hit shelves over the last few years in order to focus a little more closely, and this is not comprehensive. It would be interesting, though, to look back and see some of the names attached to earlier middle grade and YA Star Wars novels, especially as some of those names will be as familiar to readers as the ones included here (Jude Watson, for example, who writes YA under the name Judy Blundell being one).

This list is very white, as those who’ve been invited to pen a title for the franchise have been limited so far. Perhaps as we see the Star Wars universe grow more inclusive, we’ll see that happen in the books, too.

May the force be with you.

The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken (retelling of A New Hope)

The galaxy is at war.

Although the Rebel Alliance has won a few battles against the Empire, hope is fading. The Empire is about to unveil the greatest weapon the galaxy has ever seen–the Death Star. The Rebels’ only chance to defeat it now lies in the unlikely hands of a princess, a scoundrel, and a farm boy….

This is the first in a trilogy of retellings, which also includes So You Want To Be A Jedi? by Adam Gidwitz (The Empire Strikes Back) and Tom Angleberger’s Beware The Power Of The Dark Side (Return of The Jedi). All three straddle that middle grade/YA line, so they should appeal easily to either group of readers.

Ahsoka by EK Johnston

Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance.


Star Wars: Rebel Rising by Beth Revis

When Jyn Erso was five years old, her mother was murdered and her father taken from her to serve the Empire. But despite the loss of her parents she is not completely alone—Saw Gerrera, a man willing to go to any extremes necessary in order to resist Imperial tyranny, takes her in as his own, and gives her not only a home but all the abilities and resources she needs to become a rebel herself.

Jyn dedicates herself to the cause—and the man. But fighting alongside Saw and his people brings with it danger and the question of just how far Jyn is willing to go as one of Saw’s soldiers. When she faces an unthinkable betrayal that shatters her world, Jyn will have to pull the pieces of herself back together and figure out what she truly believes in…and who she can really trust.


Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Eight years after the fall of the Old Republic, the Galactic Empire now reigns over the known galaxy. Resistance to the Empire has been all but silenced. Only a few courageous leaders such as Bail Organa of Alderaan still dare to openly oppose Emperor Palpatine.

After years of defiance, the many worlds at the edge of the Outer Rim have surrendered. With each planet’s conquest, the Empire’s might grows stronger.

The latest to fall under the Emperor’s control is the isolated mountain planet Jelucan, whose citizens hope for a more prosperous future even as the Imperial Starfleet gathers overhead.


Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray

Witness the birth of the Resistance

When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.

Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy—from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy.

As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position—even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing.



Star Wars: Before The Awakening by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Phil Noto

A companion piece to the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” character novels, Star Wars: Before the Awakening is an anthology book that focuses on the lives of Rey, Finn, and Poe before the events of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens.




Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry, illustrated by Phil Noto

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Reeling from their disastrous defeat on Hoth, the heroic freedom fighters of the REBEL ALLIANCE have scattered throughout space, pursued by the agents of the sinister GALACTIC EMPIRE.

One rebel task force protects PRINCESS LEIA, bearing her in secrecy from star to star. As the last survivor of Alderaan’s House of Organa, Leia is a symbol of freedom, hunted by the Empire she has opposed for so long.

The struggle against Imperial tyranny has claimed many rebel lives. As the Empire closes in, Leia resolves to make a sacrifice of her own, lest the cause of freedom be extinguished from the galaxy.