There has perhaps never been a time full of more Star Wars content than Winter of 2019. Over the past month, we have seen the release of the first novel set after The Last Jedi, the first ever live-action Star Wars television series, the first single-player video game in the new Canon, a comic book series linking Episodes VIII & IX, and more!
It’s never been a better time to be a fan. Of that we can be sure.
And in that vein, it is perhaps fitting that the latest Young Adult release from the folks over at Disney Lucasfilm features a character that is discovering Star Wars for the first time. Some fans have been playing with stormtroopers since they could first make a fist, others have just pressed play on The Mandalorian because it came with their Verizon trial of Disney+, and others still are discovering the saga in the memories of those that lived it.
Because some are Karr Nuq Sin.
Because some will become the Force Collector.
Kevin Shinick’s debut Young Adult novel drops us into Karr’s life as he struggles with a number of life’s vital questions that often plague teenagers. How do I make my parents understand me? Does the new girl at school actually like me? How do I stop the visions given to me by the Force from catapulting me into fitful seizures of intense pain?
You know. The normal stuff.
You see, Karr has been bestowed the gift of vision by the Force, and much like EU fan favorite Jedi Master Quinlan Vos, Karr is able to see the history of objects by touching them. Whereas Vos was able to master this technique through years of Jedi training, Karr finds himself living during the Rise of the First Order, and therefore he must struggle without a master.
Except his grandmother, J’Hara, that is. From a young age, J’Hara instills within Karr the belief in the Force and the validity of the history of the Jedi. On Karr’s home planet of Merokia, the propaganda of the Empire has already begun to strip away the history of the Jedi as guardians and protectors, and Karr is determined to restore their legacy any way he can.
This desire takes him, his new friend Maize, and a souped up medical droid that doesn’t know a whole lot about medicine on an adventure across the stars in search of artifacts that will gift Karr with knowledge about the Force, the Jedi, and his own destiny.
On the whole, Karr’s adventure was an enjoyable read, but in a time where we are experiencing so much Star Wars content that is actively pushing the needle forward, I found that Force Collector too often lacked that crucial kinetic energy.
A majority of the novel is spent traveling around the galaxy with Karr as he experiences the saga’s greatest hits. His search takes him to Utapau, Jakku, and even Batuu, and at each stop, the search for helmets, staffs, or cloaks expands the young Force user’s mind more and more. However, if you’re already familiar with the events that are packed within Karr’s visions (as I assume most readers will be), these excursions begin to feel a bit like a checklist. The young man’s reasons for planetary exploration are never quite as solid as you’d like; he simply needs to go to another planet, and he will find the next artifact. Rinse and repeat. This is not to say that I didn’t get a warm feeling in my heart every time I read the word Skywalker or Kenobi, but I struggled to feel the intense need for Karr’s quest to continue as he pulled into the next spaceport.
Next week in our full spoiler review, we’ll delve a bit more into the characters in the novel, but for now, I’ll say that some of the more interesting players felt a bit underutilized. Karr is the clear protagonist of the book, and while there’s nothing wrong with a heavy protagonist focus, some of the supporting cast felt a bit thrown to the side when they could have added a bit more conflict or perspective to the main quest.
However, the passion for Star Wars in Force Collector rings loud and true through every single page. You can feel how much fun Shinick is having as winds together every easter egg and plot point from the vast saga into visions, artifacts, and character interactions. Keeping in line with the sentiment of Roanhorse’s Resistance Reborn earlier this month, Force Collector is a love letter to the history of Star Wars. Every era is represented and respected along Karr’s journey, and the end of the book provides a lovely conclusion to this chapter before we all head into the supposed end next month. I merely wish that there had been a bit more narrative tissue connecting the stories together.
While Force Collector may not be a must read before The Rise of Skywalker, it is still a fun ride through the history of Star Wars through new, curious eyes, and only goes to show you that even if the saga ends...the story will live forever.