Published: November 19th, 2019 (US); October 4th, 2019 (UK)
Author: Kevin Shinick
Cover Artist: Tony Foti
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press (US); Egmont (UK)
Formats: Hardback (384 pages), Paperback (352 pages), eBook (384 pages), Audiobook (494 minutes)
Timeline: 30 ABY (approx.)
Karr is a teenage boy like many others in the galaxy, but he has a secret: when he touches certain objects, he gets visions of people he doesn’t know and places he’s never been.
Karr’s grandmother is convinced the visions come from the Force. But are there any Jedi left to guide Karr in the use of his abilities?
Accompanied by Maize, the unpredictable new girl at school, and RZ-7, Karr’s droid companion, he sets off into the larger galaxy to find the truth. His adventures will take him from Utapau to Jakku to Takodana and beyond as he learns more about the Jedi than he could have expected…and about his own place in the Force.
Staring dramatically into the distance, lead protagonist Karr is depicted on Foti’s rather mysterious cover that almost mimics Rey’s scavenger introduction from The Force Awakens. The detailed artwork hides a multitude of objects, some of which impact the actual story, from an Imperial stormtrooper helmet, a familiar looking training-remote and possibly even a Jedi holocron tucked into the folds of the backpack.
Karr Nuq Sin, a teenager living on the backwater planet of Merokia near the Unknown Regions, hides a secret ability – when he touches certain objects, he has visions. Filled with the stories of the Jedi by his grandmother and convinced his ability is linked to the Force, Karr is determined to find out the truth about his family. Joined by his trusty, retrofitted droid RZ-7 along with newfound schoolfriend Maize Raynshi, they set-off on an adventure that will take them to some of the most famous planets in galactic history. However, it’s not just historical objects they’ll find but also truths about the Jedi – secrets that have been hidden for a long time.
It is very obvious that Shinick did a lot of research when writing Force Collector, because there are so many references and connections to almost every area of the Star Wars universe, from the films to a lot of other media. There’s Maz Kanata on Takodana who lends Karr the missing arm of a certain golden protocol droid, Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities containing the lightsaber of the Grand Inquisitor, and even Unkar Plutt making shady deals on Jakku. Every chapter has a reference to find, with some being extremely subtle while others are far more obvious.
Even though this is a relatively short book, Shinick has written extremely relatable characters that undergo a real journey of self-discovery during this story. Karr starts out totally naive and unaware about the wider galaxy, so learns a lot by experiencing the different cultures of other planets. He also begins with the dream of becoming a Jedi only to learn that he’s Force-sensitive and not a Force-user, so has to emotionally deal with accepting that life doesn’t always go the way you planned. Maize is the complete opposite of Karr; the daughter of wealthy parents who’s moved from planet to planet, she’s a bit of a spoilt brat at first, but it’s through her friendship with Karr that she learns the importance of family.
Another fascinating element about this book is the Force itself, and Shinick definitely makes you rethink some of the supposed facts about the Force. One of the most intriguing parts in this story is that the gift of the Force is not necessarily passed down through families – an alien concept compared to famous Jedi lineages. However, Karr is the great-grandson of a Jedi, but neither his father nor grandmother had the Force. The ability to touch objects and see their history by using the Force isn’t a new concept, with both Quinlan Vos and Cal Kestis also having psychometry, but it is quite rare and the visions are brilliantly written in a vague way that leaves room for interpretation by the reader.
So, how does Force Collector connect to The Rise of Skywalker? Firstly, Kijimi, a new planet from the film, is visited very briefly and it already has a large First Order presence, which is interesting as the story is set before the events of The Force Awakens. Another tie-in is that Maz has Luke’s medal from the Battle of Yavin, which is probably the same one she gives to Chewbacca at the end of Episode IX.
Although Force Collector is aimed at kids, and so is a fun adventure story about teenagers flying around the galaxy dodging trouble, it is still worth reading by fans of any age. The emotional challenges faced by both Karr and Maize are real-world problems that make them easy to empathise with, and there are plenty of moral lessons to be learned throughout. Perhaps the best reason to add Force Collector to fans’ shelves though are all the geeky references and famous lines that brilliantly connect it to the rest of the Star Wars galaxy, and which are sure to delight fans when reading.
Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Force Collector was published on November 19, 2019 in the US and October 4th, 2019 in the UK in paperback and is available at all good bookstores and through online retailers, including Amazon, with an RRP of £9.99. It is available in hardback, paperback, eBook and audiobook formats.