Leia, Princess of Alderaan
The never-before-told story of how young Leia Organa comes to join the rebellion against the evil Empire, from best-selling author Claudia Gray.
Find it on Goodreads.
As I wrote on Goodreads, it is my opinion that Claudia Gray doesn’t understand Leia’s character as we see it in the Star Wars movie franchise. Leia, as I have come to understand her since I watched A New Hope when I was two, is a head-strong, rebellious, ambitious, independent, and good-hearted person with a resilience of steel. She is not the type of person to easily fall in love, not because she’s been heartbroken before but because, in her eyes, the rebellion comes first and love is just a distraction. She is the type of person who accepts loss as part of the fight against the empire and doesn’t let her emotions get in the way (when Alderaan is blown up with her entire family and all of her people on it, she doesn’t shed a tear). She is also the type of person to call it like she sees it, telling Han Solo when she thinks he’s being an idiot or shaming cowardice in crisis situations.
In Leia, Princess of Alderaan, we are given an entirely different character. With only two years (or less) between this novel and A New Hope, we see instead a petulant child who can’t understand why her parents aren’t doting on her; a girl who falls head over heels for the most obvious guy who is also the complete opposite of Han Solo, the man who will become the love of her life; a princess who values her crown and her role as leader of Alderaan too much for it to make sense that she would resist getting emotional over the destruction of her planet; and a person too soft to yell at someone for putting the lives of the rest of the rebels at risk (as we see her do in the movies). And, at the conclusion of the novel, there is no indication that this petty, frivolous, and immature girl will change to become the Leia we know in the movies.
Those complaints aside, Gray’s writing of the secondary and tertiary characters also falls short. The characterization and writing was actually laughable! Until about halfway through, every character is Jar-Jar Binks-esque; all are caricatures of who I think Gray intended them to be but failed to make them become. You have the male love interest who is your classic good-guy to the extent of being annoying and knowing he’s going to get killed because he’s way too soft, not to mention the fact that he is a monotone, blank page; there is nothing interesting about him at all and I wanted to slap Leia for falling for him. Then you have the hippie-chick who is a female humanoid version of Jar-Jar Binks in her entirety. You have the snarky bad guy who is “bad” because he’s snarky…and that’s it. You have a snake-like alien creature who is just kind of hovering in the periphery and contributing nothing to the story. And, of course, you have Bale and Breha, but an extremely opaque version of them. They are weak and pitiable–a stark contrast to the way Bale is characterized in the movies and other Star Wars Universe books.
Giving this book three stars was generous of me, and mostly contributed to the fact that the audiobook reader was pretty good and made the experience of listening to my first audiobook pretty enjoyable. Still, I would have preferred a reader with a deeper voice to closer resemble Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of Leia.
At the end of the day, I can’t believe anyone would give this book 5 stars, and I am certainly not reading other Claudia Gray books in future.