A good YA novel for new Star Wars fans to get a brief history of the major canon events.
The Force Collector by Kevin Schnik is the type of nice Star Wars palette cleanser of low stakes in the Star Wars universe that one needs in between the heavy adult novels. It’s not giving any major revelations but it is a nice summary of all the major events of Star Wars history through the eyes of a new character. Being a site that dives into the business, creative, and marketing side of Star Wars canon, we can sometimes get in the weeds so when I novel comes along that I think a new Star Wars fan or a Star Wars fan that wants to get into reading more might enjoy, I have to recommend.
The novel takes place during the Sequel Trilogy and was a part of the publishing campaign “Journey to the Rise of Skywalker.” However, the only thing that makes that evident is a few side characters. The story revolves around a teenager Karr Nuq Sin who knows that something is wrong with him. He gets unbearable headaches and sees things when he touches certain items. His grandmother, J’Hara, tells him that she believes it is the force, and even though she is not force-sensitive tries to help train him.
Having a possible answer for his headaches and visions, Karr is set on trying to find a Jedi to train him, which is the driving plot of the novel. Along the way he, and his droid, visit various familiar locations including Utapau, Dok-Ondar’s, and Maz Kanata’s Castle, sharpening his powers while avoided the occasional First Order Stormtroopers. While Karr is set on becoming a Jedi, he discovers that the force might have other plans for him.
Even though it is never mentioned in the novel, if you have seen The Clone Wars or played Jedi: Fallen Order, you know Karr has the force ability, psychometry or force echo, the ability to see events or people associated with an object simply by touch. If you haven’t heard of it that’s ok because it is made clear in the novel that sometimes force-sensitives might not have the skills necessary to become a Jedi but that doesn’t mean they can’t carry on the traditions. But by having a character that has psychometry, we can follow a character on the outside of the Star Wars universe learning about the main players. Information is not readily available of the Jedi (most people Karr interacts with think they are a myth) because the Jedi lost the war, and therefore got erased from history, something that happens in our own world history. Also, putting a psychometry in Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities is probably smart considering it is a real place in Galaxy’s Edge where you can buy Jedi “artifacts.”
The story has its issues, however: some dialogue Karr has when he is questioned by First Order Troopers veers into cringe territory and is almost unrealistic as far as lack of consequences and the overall plot feels more Middle Grade than Young Adult with fewer stakes (especially when compared to other YA novels like Ahsoka and Rebel Rising). There is also a lot of exposition because of Karr’s ability but it is not overwhelming.
I know sometimes readers have a hard time finding an entry point to Star Wars novels as there is really no clear beginning that feels devoid of all the baggage from the films or shows. The High Republic is one but that might be too much of a commitment in the long run as the amount of reading material from that initiative seems endless. The Force Collector is the closest novel that stands on its own while giving a summary of Star Wars history so, if you want a quick read that can give you all those great Star Wars themes, consider picking up this novel.