A Book by Daniel José Older
The second wave “Middle Grade” book from the Star Wars – The High Republic franchise is Race to Crashpoint Tower by Daniel José Older. Compared to it’s predecessor, A Test of Courage, its far more action-packed, but suffers from the unshakeable misfortune of simply being a side-story to the mainline book, Rising Storm. In fact, had you not read Rising Storm, it would be rather difficult to fully understand what was happening most of the time. This is an odd editorial choice because that book is classified as an adult market book, and this is specifically marketed towards children. To me, this is a slight mis-step as the author can definitely write action scenes and sprinkle in a bit of humor here and there, so I feel like his talent was largely wasted. This is not a “bad book” or anything, but it has no real soul of its own.
“The Republic Fair is coming! Visitors from all over the galaxy are traveling to the planet Valo for a massive, awe-inspiring festival celebrating the Republic. While his fellow Valons prepare for the fair, Jedi Padawan Ram Jomaram is hiding out in his favorite place: a dingy garage filled with mechanical parts and tools. But when a security alarm goes off on the nearby hilltop nicknamed Crashpoint Peak, he ventures out with his trusty droid V-18 to investigate. There he discovers that someone has knocked out Valo’s communications tower—a frightening sign that Valo, and the Republic Fair, are in danger. Sure enough, as Ram races to warn the Jedi, the dreaded Nihil unleash a surprise attack! It’s up to Ram to face down the enemy at Crashpoint Tower and send a call for help to the Republic. Luckily, he’s about to get some assistance from unexpected new friends…”
Longtime fans were introduced to the principal characters in the story, Jedi Padawans named Ram Jomaram and Lula Talisola as well as former Jedi Ty Yorrick, in Rising Storm in a “blink and you missed it” cameo. This all occurred in the chaos during the Nihil attack on Valo at The Republic Fair. Due to this, the book never really gets to a point where I end up caring too much about the main characters, which is a shame since Ram is, at least, pretty interesting considering he specializes in tinkering and mechanical work. Having a ton of new characters introduced here seems unnecessary so far into the initiative, and honestly I wish this was a continuation of the previous middle grade book.
The main attraction here is trying to fill in some gaps from previous books, for example, if you had questions on who exactly thee characters were, why nobody could call out of Valo for help during the Nihil raid, or how the comms were switched back on for back-up. None of these plot points are crucial for the overall story, but having that sliver of additional story was cool.
I have greatly enjoyed The High Republic, but my one overall grip is that all of the books have an issue with character bloat and every author having separate casts that rarely seem to intersect with each other too often. That said, I am not going to judge this too harshly as it’s a kid’s book meant for children or young teens. It’s not going to be as complex or dramatic as one of the adulty books, and nobody should expect that. I just feel that I would have liked it better as a self-contained adventure rather than a “B-Side” from another much better book. Overall, this was okay but slightly disappointing.