“You must see the whole for the whole, and each part for the role it plays…”
As we grow up, we are constantly in search of the one thing that makes us special.
Maybe it’s art.
Maybe it’s sports.
Maybe it’s math.
Maybe it’s machines.
No matter which passions we end up following, our choice can define the rest of our lives. But sometimes...those passions can also make us feel alone. Maybe our passions aren’t as popular as we’d like. Maybe we learn about them away from the group.
Or maybe we never feel more in tune with the Force than when we’re working with machines.
Daniel José Older’s Race to Crashpoint Tower sets these beautifully relatable life lessons within the vibrant world of The High Republic in a style that presents a necessary addition to the events of the Republic Fair alongside complex character evolutions for readers of any age.
Now before we get into what makes Crashpoint such an enjoyable addition to the second wave of the newest Star Wars era, let us offer one suggestion:
Read The Rising Storm first. While both books released on the same day and overlap a decent amount of plot points, it’s our opinion that having an overall grasp of the events in The Rising Storm will lead to the greatest amount of fulfillment as you read Crashpoint.
Additionally, if you’ve been keeping up with The High Republic Adventures comic (also written by Older), you’ll have a much more fulfilling time as old friends from that series continuously pop up. And if you haven’t...get on that and enjoy one of the best surprises of the last year.
Alright. Let’s dive in.
Race to Crashpoint Tower is a middle grade novel that centers around a number of Jedi Padawans during the Republic Fair on the planet Valo. Ram Jomaram, a Padawan stationed on Valo, and Lula Talisola of The High Republic Adventures weave in and out of each other’s stories as a purposefully peaceful event plunges into chaos.
While we will not go into specific story spoilers in this review, we can say that a number of scenes directly intersect with moments in Cavan Scott’s The Rising Storm, and the effect does a magnificent job of reminding you exactly where you are in terms of the overall initiative; further cementing that The High Republic truly is one cohesive adventure.
These scenes include everything from speeder chases to blaster shootouts to unlikely alliances and more, but Crashpoint Tower’s greatest successes lie in its quieter moments. Within pages of high flying action and bonbrak shenanigans (you’ll love those little guys) are a number of conversations that Star Wars fans old and young have thought about for years.
What is attachment?
Can I be afraid?
What if I’m not as brave as I thought I was?
Older treats these questions with exquisite care, and his respect for his audience no matter their age is unquestionable. Are these characters kids? Absolutely. But they’re smart. They’re strong. They stumble. And they get back up.
These are the lessons every Padawan needs to learn, and they’re the lessons we all wish to have as we grow up.
Perhaps the most impactful lessons comes from a conversation between Lula and a previous High Republic all-star, Vernestra Rwoh. Vern’s status as a Jedi Knight gives her a significant amount of sway and authority when it comes to the book’s action, but when a young friend approaches her with life’s biggest questions...she rises to the challenge even more.
She may be a teenager, but she’s seen the galaxy, and the weight of her life as well as the life each character has lived is a constant companion throughout the book’s many adventurous moments.
Now. That was a lot of heavy stuff...but this book is also ridiculously fun!
Fans of Older’s writing know that he’s never one to shy away from the silly or sublime. His playful aesthetic comes out in full force throughout Crashpoint featuring his trademark levity and occasional modernisms that may take some readers out of the story from time to time, but his love for each character rings clear at the forefront of every word.
Older treats every Jedi, droid, villain, and creature with authorial respect and obvious excitement. Ram’s struggles with his purpose as a Padawan who’s just a bit different tug at your heartstrings. You can’t help but root for Lula as she strives to be the best Jedi she can be (or there ever was, thank you very much). And whether it’s Zeen, Vernestra, or even V-18 taking center stage, you’ll find yourself saying “just one more page” until you finish the entire book.
This love and deviation to each character helps Crashpoint transcend to a book that not only makes a great gift for the younger readers in your family but also a crucial addition to any High Republic shelf. The characters matter. The stories matter. And the lessons matter. To every single one of us.
Justina Ireland’s A Test of Courage may have been the first middle grade novel for a lot of Star Wars fans in quite a while, but the thrilling action, emotional depths, and impactful story moments of Race to Crashpoint Tower ensures that this won’t be the last.