This was a book I've been meaning to get into ever since The Last Jedi came out, but it just slipped away from me until recently.
Cobalt Squadron is a book by Elizabeth Wein following Rose and Paige Tico. I won't spoil it here, but it's a really great adventure, and a wonderful way to get to know Rose. I already loved Rose from The Last Jedi, so it was great to get to learn more about her background, and her relationship to her sister. Getting to know Paige was also great, since we only got to see a little bit of her in The Last Jedi. Overall, this book was a great read, especially if you're a fan of the Tico sisters. I wrote in my Sisterhood in Star Wars article about how the different pairs of sisters in the Star Wars universe are important to me and included Rose and Paige on that list, so I loved getting to read about their bond. Another important thing about this book was that it put a lot of different scenes with Rose in The Last Jedi in a whole different light for me, and now with the new knowledge from this book I definitely have to do another rewatch of that movie.
Spoilers ahead for Cobalt Squadron!
The book takes before and through The Force Awakens, leading right up to the events we see in the beginning of The Last Jedi. It focuses on Rose and Paige, as well as the squadron they fly with. A lot of the book has scenes where the Tico sisters and their team are working together to fly their large bomber (the ones we see in the first scene of The Last Jedi), and they were really fun to read as each character fulfills their job and helps each other out. I love stories where teams work together smoothly in tense situations, and there's a lot of that in this book. Even when things go wrong (and they do pretty often), they manage to play to their strengths and come up with solutions that help them fight another day.
However, as I wrote above, the absolute highlight of the book was the Tico sisters. Rose and Paige have a really strong bond, and Paige as the older sister is extremely protective of Rose, while Rose looks up to Paige a lot, and admires her. An important part of Rose's arc in this book (and something that I think strengthens her story in The Last Jedi) is learning that she has value, and becoming more confident in doing things herself independently from Paige. In fact, there's a scene where Rose is asked to fly in a separate ship from Paige, but refuses because she doesn't want to fly without her sister (someone else takes her place on that ship and it does get destroyed, leaving Rose feeling guilty about that). At the end of the book though, Rose is asked to fly without Paige, and Rose makes the courageous decision (with Paige's encouragement) to take the separate mission, she and Paige promising each other that they'll see each other again when it's all over.
Which leads into my next point, which is how so many Rose scenes in The Last Jedi are now in a whole different light for me because of what I learned in this book. For example- that first time that Rose and Paige fly without each other? That mission is the one we see in the beginning of The Last Jedi, where Paige unfortunately doesn't make it back. When I realized that while reading, I definitely cried a little bit- while I suppose it's good that Rose wasn't on the ship and survived, the fact that the very first time she made the choice to be so independent was the time that something terrible happened just makes my heart break even more for her than it already did.
But that's not the only thing. See, Paige apparently had a strong affinity for animals, even though the Ticos' homeworld didn't have any, so she hasn't seen very many of them. But Paige's favorite animal was fathiers. She would talk all the time about how much she wanted to see or ride one, but was sure she'd never get to. Paige loved fathiers so much that when the crew of their ship played sabacc, rather than betting credits they all had imaginary stables full of racing fathiers that they'd play with. Knowing this now, I can only imagine why Rose was so emotional over the fathiers that she and Finn freed in The Last Jedi. I don't think I'll ever be able to watch those scenes the same way again.
Essentially, this is essential Rose Tico reading. I loved this book the whole way through, and I'd love to see more Rose Tico stories in the future. She definitely hasn't gotten proper appreciation, and I'd like to see that change, especially after reading Cobalt Squadron.