By Julie Catherine
The High Republic era propels forward with Daniel José Older’s exhilarating junior novel Race to Crashpoint Tower. The novel follows Jedi Padawan Ram Jomaram as he investigates and faces a surprise attack from the Nihil at the awe-inspiring Republic Fair.
Older has been one of the flagship authors building out this era in Star Wars lore and his efforts so far have excelled. His work on The High Republic Adventures comic for IDW Publishing strikes a delicate balance between a breakneck paced array of action and more intimate, grounded character moments. And, thankfully, Race to Crashpoint Tower does just the same. Regarding the former point, Race to Crashpoint Tower is a non-stop thrill ride. The book is a quick read and affords little time to linger between its moments of intensity, which are frequent. For the most part, this approach really worked, especially for the formatting of a junior novel, and provided an interesting juxtaposition to other High Republic projects like Light of the Jedi in regards to pacing. That being said, the novel could have done with a little more breathing room on the front end to flesh out the Republic Fair before the intervention of the Nihil.
Race to Crashpoint Tower continues what is, arguably, the most appealing element of The High Republic releases so far in its really intricate depiction of different Jedi. Each Jedi in this era, including Ram in Older’s novel, feel like distinct characters with idiosyncratic interests, personalities, and connections to the Force. Race to Crashpoint Tower does not feature cookie-cutter portrayals of Jedi, but, instead, takes advantage of its medium as a novel by carefully examining and developing each character. Ram is very likable from the get-go, as is fellow Padawan Lula Talisola. They both have their own insecurities they must tackle throughout the novel and Older does a great job depicting what it’s like for these two burgeoning Jedi to face such a threat. Ram’s banter with his humorous droid V-18 is a highlight throughout the novel, and readers will surely grow to love the bond these characters share.
Older also succeeds in some terrific worldbuilding in his novel, as emphasized the interconnectivity Race to Crashpoint Tower has with other High Republic projects. The worldbuilding that the first wave of High Republic releases accomplished is greatly expanded upon here. While those initial releases introduced us to this new era and the threats that exist, Race to Crashpoint Tower and the other wave 2 releases put their foot on the pedal and don’t look back. While this approach may make it somewhat difficult for readers to hop into Race to Crashpoint Tower without prior exposure to other High Republic projects, it feels really rewarding to see plot lines, characters, and locations introduced in other works explored here. For instance, Lula features in Older’s High Republic Adventures and Venestra Rwoh from Justina Ireland’s A Test of Courage play prominent roles in this novel and, amongst other things, add a sense of interconnectivity that Star Wars, overall, explores so brilliantly.
Daniel José Older’s Race to Crashpoint Tower follows other junior novels in Star Wars like Justina Ireland’s A Test of Courage in providing a brilliant tale that will appeal to younger and older readers alike. The humor and intimacy we’ve grown to love in Older’s writing is once again on display here, in a novel that interestingly intersects with various elements from other High Republic projects. While the breakneck pace leaves little room for downtime, Race to Crashpoint Tower triumphs in its portrayal of diverse, vulnerable characters and tension-filled narrative.
STAR WARS: THE HIGH REPUBLIC: RACE TO CRASHPOINT TOWER is on sale 6/29/21
Image courtesy of Disney-Lucasfilm Press