By Josh Reilly B.
Justina Ireland follows the superb A Test of Courage with her YA novel Out of the Shadows, a uniquely told and largely character-driven tale. Out of the Shadows follows the events of other High Republic phase 2 novels in detailing the aftermath of the Nihil’s attack on the Republic Fair. The story follows Sylvestri Yarrow, a young woman whose trip to Coruscant is disrupted by a political conflict. Syl’s journey intersects with those of Vernestra Rwoh, Cohmac Vitus, and Reath Silas, who are asked to assist with a mysterious property dispute.
Out of the Shadows stands out from The Rising Storm largely due to the heavily character-centric story told by author Justina Ireland. While The Rising Storm is populated with a whole host of protagonists to keep track of, Out of the Shadows narrows its focus significantly, allowing for a more intimate and introspective tale. Syl is one of the most compelling leads in The High Republic publishing initiative yet. Her backstory is deeply tied to the horrors inflicted upon the galaxy by the Nihil, making her character a unique product of the era in which this story is set in. Ireland’s knack for clever dialogue is best exemplified with Syl as she navigates relationships with her ex and the familial political struggle she finds herself in the middle of. And it’s great to see greater representation of sexual orientations with Syl’s character.
It’s also great to see some of the returning characters as well. Reath’s bookworm charm and the journey his character went on were highlights of Claudia Gray’s Into the Dark, and he’s a welcomed addition to Ireland’s novel. Ireland develops Reath in a really natural way as we see him grow more confident, assured, and angry. Vernestra Rwoh also makes her return after featuring in Light of the Jedi, A Test of Courage, and Marvel Comics’ The High Republic. Rwoh feels like a staple to the High Republic era at this point and her inclusion in the novel is earned and adds a sense of interconnectivity between these novels.
With its smaller cast of heroes and more intimate focus, Out of the Shadows certainly prioritizes characters over plot. While the overarching narrative is intriguing throughout and features many cool connections to elements in Star Wars canon, the plot never quite hits the heights of the characters that navigate this plot.
Out of the Shadows proves to be another win for author Justina Ireland. Ireland expertly navigates relevant themes and emotional journeys in her YA novel that will resonate with readers across the age spectrum. Her characters are given such careful attention that it’s easy to become deeply invested in their arcs as a plot full of intrigue commences.
STAR WARS: THE HIGH REPUBLIC: OUT OF THE SHADOWS is on sale 7/27/21
Image courtesy of Disney-Lucasfilm Press