There are young adult Star Wars books (like the recent Spark of the Resistance, which sends Rey and friends on an easy-to read kid-friendly adventure) and then there are literal young adult Star Wars books like the new novel Star Wars: Force Collector by Kevin Shinick (Robot Chicken), which focuses on a Force-sensitive teenager in search of the history of the Jedi.

In Star Wars: Force Collector, main character Karr Nuq Sin is a student at what can only be described as an intergalactic high school– difficult to picture as containing anything but the waxed hallways and rows of lockers we're used to here on planet Earth– but like all good protagonists in this franchise, he yearns for something more. Plagued with dramatic visions and fainting spells whenever he touches an object that has at some point come into contact with a Jedi knight, Karr learns from his grandmother about the Force and its potential.

Adrift in his studies and the frequent target of adolescent bullying, Karr befriends Maize Raynshi (the Star Wars equivalent of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl) and sets off on a planet-hopping adventure, chasing down a series of clues that could lead to more information about what happened to the Jedi Order so many years ago. Billed as an entry in Lucasfilm Publishing's "Journey to The Rise of Skywalker" ancillary media initiative, Force Collector actually takes place prior to the events of 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as revealed by a visit to the planet Jakku and the junkyard discovery of a certain beat-up Corellian freighter.

But this is just one episode in a series of trips down Star Wars memory lane, as Force Collector mostly serves as a reminder of what came before in this more-than-four-decades-old space saga. As Karr learns more about Emperor Palpatine's rise to power and the epic chronicles of the Skywalker family, the reader is refreshed on these events as well, hopefully providing a decent groundwork of in-universe lore prior to the new movie's release this December.

Shinick is a decent writer and the book is a breeze to get through, with the action picking up once Karr and Maize– accompanied by requisite sassy droid RZ-7– steal a First Order ship and head out into the galaxy. Along the way, they traipse across a handful of different worlds, meet up with a few familiar familiar faces from both established and recent Star Wars canon (including Dok-Ondar, the Ithorian antique shop owner from the Galaxy's Edge planet of Batuu), and discover some of Karr's hidden family secrets.

The title Star Wars: Force Collector refers to Karr's propensity for hanging onto any object of historical interest he can get his hands on, but it also hints at a later reveal and the eventual resolution to his quest. You see, Karr wants desperately to master his apparent Force abilities and become a Jedi himself, but the people he meets on his journey keep insisting he belongs on a different path. I won't say the story kept me guessing until the end, but it did wind up in a different place than I imagined, and I'll give it bonus points for that unpredictability.

What this all means for the larger Star Wars mythos is anybody's guess: all too often these books introduce characters and concepts that never pop up again in the grander scheme of things. But it also wouldn't surprise me to find out that Karr's destiny is tied in with Rey's or another key being introduced in the Disney+ live-action series The Mandalorian in the eventual reemergence of the Jedi Order or something similar to it.

For now, Star Wars: Force Collector comes across as another entertaining but ultimately unessential-feeling way to pass the time between now and the moment fans can sit down in the theater to enjoy Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. But in a period so saturated with fresh Star Wars content (see also the just-released video game Jedi – Fallen Order), one may find him or herself in need of a priority list just to begin to get through it all. In which case, Force Collector is almost certain to fall squarely in the middle.

Star Wars: Force Collector is available now from Lucasfilm Press wherever books are sold.

 
 

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