“The plot of Mission To Disaster wraps up very neatly. And although I got a little bored at times, I did enjoy the characters interacting with one another”
Star Wars: The High Republic Mission to Disaster was released on March 1st, 2022. But was released digitally a few months earlier, to my great annoyance. I feel all e-books should come after the physical simply because it is difficult for me to read digital copies. This middle-grade reader was penned by the extremely talented Justina Ireland, who in my opinion, is the most talented storyteller in The High Republic initiative. However, I was a little surprised that this book wasn’t as good as her other titles. Perhaps, because it was for young kids, it wasn’t as raw as the other more adult-oriented books. And that has to be taken into consideration for sure.
The book does start immediately with action, wasting no time in putting our heroine in mortal danger, within the first few pages of Chapter 1! Avon Starros, the brilliant (yet quirky) daughter of Senator Ghirra Staros, is working on her studies at Port Hailep when the Nihil attack and kidnap her. Vernestra (training on another planet with her apprentice) receives a vision of her friend in trouble and fears the worst. One of the best things about starting from the perspective of an aspiring scientist is that we get a little peek at what the society of the galaxy is working on scientifically. Which is a huge hobby of mine.
From what I’ve gleaned, a lot of current science is working in the natural sciences. But Avon aspires to make changes to the galaxy in the form of energy production. She does not care about growing plants faster and dreams of unlocking the power of the kyber crystal. Little does she know, that two centuries later, the scientist Galen Erso would be forced to unleash this power in the name of the evil Galactic Empire. Perhaps, if Avon could see the future, she wouldn’t be so quick to want to go in that direction.
Oddly, the Nihil kidnapped a being, as they are known for their brutal and deadly nature. But this is for kids AND the in-universe reason makes a lot of sense. Avon has gotten better at socializing with other children. This is likely due to her adventures with Vernestra, Imri, and Honesty. She is so smart, that sometimes her social skills and manners are ignored. And that is a very real unfortunate side-effect of brilliance, even on this planet. Avon approaches every situation scientifically. She gathers data and conducts “experiments” to try and escape from the Nihil. She is with other children (hence the socializing) and thinks on her feet for the Nihil to see she is an asset, and not a liability.
One of my favorite Avonian techniques is that she quickly learns that asking upfront for answers from the Nihil will get nothing. But if she is quiet and immersed in her work, those fools will start talking and give her what she needs. She also learns the hard way that escape is futile. She is trapped on an unknown world and finds herself using her genius to please the Nihil. The B story is not as interesting to me as Avon’s. But it is always fun to read Vernestra, the prodigal Jedi Knight, knighted at 15 and having an apprentice at almost 18.
Her padawan is a younger man named Imri, and Vernestra saved him from the dark side on their last adventure. Imri is a super-empath and can feel emotions as strongly as the wind on his face. Vernestra is young, but she is such a good master. And there is so much love and care in their Master-Student relationship, that it’s almost like a friendship. Vernestra is kind, patient, and very loving towards Imri, and I think I would want her as a Master if I was a Jedi. Vernestra sees the Force as water. And like how Avar Kriss sees it as music, she uses her imagination to see it move like a river, a lake, or even an ocean. Very artful on the part of Justina.
COMPLAINTS & VERDICT
My only two complaints about this book are the fact that the Nihil are too tame. And the plot itself doesn’t thrill me on the B story. Vernestra’s mission to find Avon seems almost tedious to read. And I was much more fascinated by Avon surviving and planning her escape. I did though, like how the story intersects with the Insider stories I have been reviewing. And finally, the administrator of Starlight Velko Jahen FINALLY appears, and we get a few brief scenes with this interesting character.
The plot wraps up very neatly. And although I got a little bored at times, I did enjoy the characters interacting with one another. And the larger (albeit opaque) role plays in the future. Avon knows that there is treachery afoot among the government and will probably have to make a tough decision sometime in the not-too-distant future. Yikes. Anyway, I wasn’t overly impressed with Mission To Disaster but it’s a light cute read for kids. And as always, I extend the tip of the hat to Justina for developing such great characters.
Star Wars: The High Republic: Mission To Disaster by Justina Ireland is published by Disney Lucasfilm Press and is available to order now! Special thanks to Disney Lucasfilm Press for our advanced sight of the novel.
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Max Nocerino is a regular Staff Writer for The Future of the Force. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter where he shares his love of the Force frequently!