Trouble in the New Republic! Tensions are high as the government has split into two parties, arguing over the proper role of the Senate. One side (the Centrists) declare that the only way for true peace and unity is through a single, strong, centralized government. Others (the Populists) say that the only way to remain free, to avoid a return to the Empire, is through local government watching over its own community. These differences of opinion have been prevalent throughout history, but only now does it seem that people can no longer even communicate with those of differing ideals. If this internal bickering cannot be resolved, the New Republic may crumble without even a Death Star in sight.
It has been a generation since the fall of the Empire, with only a few even remembering its tyranny. Leia Organa remembers. She remembers the horrors of allowing one man to control everything, but she also remembers the efficiency with which the Empire ran. The current Senate is barely capable of taking out the garbage cans without arguing over who should do it, when it should be done, and whether they should be called “bins” instead of “cans”. Leia is sick of it, so sick that she is willing to pull out of politics altogether. Yet, just as she tries, the Populists call upon her for aid. The Centrists are calling for a new position: First Senator, someone to organize and lead the Senate. Centrists claim this will decrease bickering and increase productivity. Populists, Leia included, are afraid this will be the first step toward a new Emperor. So Leia, as the renowned Rebellion General that she is, decides to run as the Populist candidate. After all, if she were to win, she could keep the Empire from returning and bring some organization to the Senate. Of course, that is assuming that she wins. And, for all of Leia’s popularity as great General of the Rebellion, she does have a condemning secret in her past: her father.
Since the Star Wars Expanded Universe reboot, Claudia Gray has revealed herself to be one of the best storytellers in this field. Previously I reviewed Lost Stars and was amazed at how well Gray took familiar YA tropes, yet used them to explore important ideas about humanity, empire, and love. Bloodline is also heavy in ideas, without the young adult angst. In the harsh political climate of today, Gray managed to deal head-on with the current political issues, yet in a galaxy far, far away. This book wears its ideas on its sleeve, yet because it is talking about Star Wars, it comes across neither as preachy nor annoying. Gray does not tiptoe around the issues, but also reveals just how incredibly nuanced the issues are. She does this by showing the political failings of both sides and showing well-rounded characters holding to both political ideals. Leia strongly holds to the Populist framework, yet she discovers that those in the opposition have equally well thought out arguments for their side. Neither side is stupid in believing what they believe, they simply have a difference of opinion. Gray marvelously portrays these differences, and yet shows how people can still be friends and work together despite their disagreements.
I probably would never have read this book if it were not Star Wars, yet it struggles because it is a part of the Star Wars universe. Why? Well, much of this book expects the reader to have further knowledge of the universe. This isn’t inherently bad (because it allows it to spend space delving into the themes, rather than having to explain character relationships). However, because this book is trapped in a specific timeline of the universe, Bloodline fails to have a satisfactory ending. In a sense, Bloodline is only a big ad for The Force Awakens because, ultimately, it can only set up dominoes to be used in the film. Of course, Bloodline does a great job of setting up those dominoes (and in exploring ideas), but as a result the end feels a bit off.
Ultimately, I really enjoyed this book. It made me think, I cared for the characters, and the story was well written. If you are a fan of The Force Awakens and want a little backstory into how things got the way they were in that film, then you should definitely give Bloodline a read.
Published on 1 July, 2016. Last updated on