Book Review: Force Collector
I didn't go into Force Collector expecting to love it as much as I did, but this book totally captured me. It was interesting, both deeply connected and yet also far away from the Star Wars stories that we already know, brought new concepts to the galaxy and was just a really fun but still meaningful story. I'd really recommend this book, it's a fairly light read and a great book to get a different perspective on stories we already know and love. I really think this book would be a great one to read without spoilers, but if you don't mind some spoilers. then read on.
Spoilers ahead for Force Collector by Kevin Shinick!
It takes place a few years before The Force Awakens. The protagonist of our story is Karr Nuq Sin, a boy with Force sensitivity that he- and no one else around him- seems to understand. He wears gloves made by his grandmother- the only person who seemed to have any understanding of the Force- because whenever he touches objects of significant history barehanded, he gets strong, overwhelming visions that lead to him having intense headaches, passing out, and sometimes what appear to be seizures. Readers who are familiar with characters like Quinlan Vos and Cal Kestis recognize this as a form of psychometry, but Karr doesn't know that. It's really interesting to hear how the parts of the galaxy that aren't as familiar with the Force handle this- Karr's parents, for example, worry he has a medical condition and take him around to see a variety of doctors looking for a diagnosis. But Karr, thanks to his grandmother, is firm in the idea that he has the Force.
Karr then meets Maize, a new troublemaker at his school, and they form a tentative friendship. When Karr's parents want to send him to a trade school, worrying that the stress of the school he's in now is exacerbating the medical condition that they think he has, Karr, Maize and Karr's "medical" droid RZ-7 take Maize's father's ship and set out on a quest. Karr wants to travel the galaxy and build up his collection of Jedi artifacts, and convince the skeptical Maize that the Jedi ever existed at all.
Maize is a really interesting character. She's half-Mirialan, and half-human. Her human father actually works for the First Order, so he's away a lot and forces Maize and her mother to move very often. She has a closer bond with her father, but also resents him for being away from home so often and constantly uprooting them due to his job. She doesn't feel as close to her mother, as her mother is always depressed without her father around, leaving Maize to basically do as she pleases. One other little fact about Maize is that despite her Mirialan heritage, she doesn't have the facial tattoos we typically see of those characters- despite her mother wishing she would get them.
Karr and Maize go on their adventure to find Jedi artifacts, with Karr touching objects to try and learn from them. They go to Utapau, where they meet the son of a clone trooper running a shop, and Karr touches an object that allows him to glimpse into the past- specifically, the scene from Revenge of the Sith where Obi-Wan first arrives at Utapau and speaks to Tion Medon. From there, Karr and Maize are sent on a quest across a variety of planets, tracing one clue after another. Karr begins to piece together a story about two Jedi named Kenobi and Skywalker, though he doesn't have it quite right- he thinks that stories of Luke and stories of Anakin are about the same person. It's funny, interesting, and a little bit frustrating to see Karr get so close to figuring out this story we all know by heart, yet still so far.
They end up on Jakku, where Unkar Plutt has the Millennium Falcon (though the kids don't know the ship's name or significance). They sneak aboard, where Karr finds a familiar object- the training ball that Luke uses with Obi-Wan. It's a really cool scene, to see Karr see the famous scene from A New Hope. Unfortunately, before they leave Jakku, First Order stormtroopers take Maize, who's father was looking for her, though Karr and RZ are able to leave with the ship- they just have to practice flying a bit first. Without Maize, and Karr and RZ do find Sifo Dias' crashed ship and find a holorecording of his last moments. They later head to Batuu and meet with Dok Ondar, who gives Karr a broken piece of an Inquisitor saber (one that gives him the haunting vision of himself slaying a Jedi) in exchange for Karr taking a package to Maz Kanata on Takodana.
Karr finds his most important revelations through Maz. The package he was carrying for her from Dok Ondar held a golden protocol droid's arm. Maz talks with Karr about the Force, and then tells him to touch the arm. Karr does, and is overwhelmed by the amount of information he sees- as we know, that golden protocol droid has seen quite a lot. Karr learns all about the Skywalker saga that we know and love, and a lot more about the Force and the Jedi. He leaves Maz much more knowledgable than he was, but still lost on what his place in this story is. They don't get far, though- they stop for Kijimi to refuel, but the First Order finds them and sends them home after some questioning on if Karr knows where Luke Skywalker is.
Once at home, Karr discovers a huge fact about himself- his great grandfather (his grandmother's father) was a Jedi named Naq Med who left the order to have his daughter, and then went into hiding in the age of the Empire, only barely contacting his daughter anymore. Karr and Maize go to find him in his remote cottage on a swampy planet, and they're met with hostility at first until Karr reveals that he's his great-grandson, and they realize that Karr is the spitting image of his great grandfather in his youth. It turns out that the vision Karr had of himself slaying a Jedi was not a glimpse into a future as he feared, but rather a recollection of different events from the past that his mind melded into one, as his grandfather fought and escaped Inquisitors, and those Inquisitors killed Jedi. Naq Med dies peacefully, leaving Karr to take his lightsaber and some other Jedi artifacts to add to his collection. Karr still isn't sure what his place in the Force is, until he realizes- he's a Force collector, and he has all of this knowledge of history that was buried by the Empire. So Naq decides it's time to write it all down, record it for future generations. How does he start the story? "A long time ago..."
Force Collector was such a great book, which I said already. Both Karr and Maize were fascinating, dynamic characters that grew throughout the book. Maize, for example, decided to bond more with her parents and to get some Mirialan tattoos, with her mother's help, at the end of the book, even though she didn't want them at the beginning. The book was really funny, too, when it wasn't telling such a strong story (and sometimes at the same time that it was). It was so fascinating to watch Karr backtrack through famous Star Wars scenes, and try to piece it together through the little bits that he knew. I loved how he finds a place in the galaxy in a way that feels more relatable and, for lack of a better term, down-to-earth. Karr doesn't have to be a great hero or warrior or politician to matter in Star Wars- his role as a storyteller makes him just as important as anyone else. Because after all, they wouldn't be as important without someone to tell their story in the first place.
I definitely left some stuff out, but there's a lot in this book, and I'd highly recommend you pick it up yourself and give it a read. While it may not be as overall plot-important as other books, it still tells a great story that gives us a look into the Star Wars galaxy.
Also, there's a reference to Teek from the Ewok movies, and that just makes the book perfect.