Set before the events of Solo: A Star Wars Story! Han and Qi’ra don’t have a lot in common other than not having a lot. They’re street kids on the industrial planet Corellia, doing whatever it takes to get by, dreaming of something more. They each jump at a chance to prove themselves in the perilous world of Corellia’s criminal underbelly, only to discover they are on the same mission for the same unscrupulous boss. When the job goes disastrously wrong, Han and Qi’ra are on the run–from pirates, a droid crime syndicate, the Empire, and their boss–and will have to learn to trust each other if they are going to survive.
The other day it dawned on me: I had still only seen SOLO one time! My experience seeing it in the theatre was…less than ideal (this article explains the problem more intelligently than I ever could), and then I just spaced out on grabbing the Blu-ray. I noticed it was on Netflix recently, so I settled in to watch some Star Wars on a snowy day (as you do).
And it was like seeing it for the first time, really. Fucking hell, it’s just so good! And watching it reminded me that I still had yet to read Most Wanted, and so…here we are.
Rae Carson was one of the four authors of the Star Wars: Canto Bight collection, and her novella “Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing” was especially dark & emotional. I was really excited to see how Most Wanted would further develop Han & Qi’ra’s backstory & relationship, and honestly, I think this is probably my favorite of the Star Wars YA novels since Lost Stars!
I think what I loved most is just how tightly focused this one feels. Some Star Wars novels have a tendency to…meander a bit. And that’s fine, too! But in Most Wanted, Rae Carson absolutely zeroes in on the dynamic between Han & Qi’ra, which in turn makes everything that happens to them in SOLO seem that much more heartbreaking.
When we meet Han & Qi’ra in Most Wanted, they are acquainted with one another, but not what you’d call friends. They’re both working for the vile Lady Proxima, as part of her White Worms gang. Their life on Corellia is hard, and Carson really leans into the gritty & grimy vibe of this planet. Every day there is a struggle, but Han & Qi’ra are just…good-hearted people, trying to survive. They are both rather ambitious, and looking to advance their “careers”, such as they are. Lady Proxima leverages that ambition, and sets Han & Qi’ra on a seriously high stakes collision course with one another.
This book just felt so true to the characters, while adding in some great surprises as well. I couldn’t help but laugh seeing Han have such a great relationship with a droid in this book…I guess all those years later, it’s really just C-3PO that’s a pain in his ass, and not droids in general! Han & Qi’ra also spend a lot of the book working with a pretty awesome Rodian named Tsuulo…although he attempts to call upon it frequently, his understanding of the Force is really unfounded & innocently sweet.
Where this book shines brightest is in really developing the bond between Han & Qi’ra. As much as some of the action sequences are quite thrilling, this, to me, is all about those two characters. And it’s built up in a very organic way, too. Nothing feels forced or unearned between them. Gah…this was a really great Star Wars novel! Highly recommended, and it could be read before or after seeing SOLO!!