by EK Johnston
EK Johnston shows that Star Wars is for everyone in her latest Star Wars YA novel Queen's Peril. Her previous two books are Ahsoka and Queen's Shadow. Queen's Peril is the second book about Padmé, it is a prequel to Queen's Shadow. My favorite part about EK Johnston's books is her passion for getting this story out there. This idea has been in her head since she saw The Phantom Menance in 1999. I love this because it demonstrates how each fan has a unique perspective of Star Wars. We all get something different from the stories, and that's a beautiful thing.
If I have one thing to say about this book, it's this- read it. It's easy to jump into. You don't need to know every Star Wars character, ship, or planet to get sucked into this one. You won't be lost if you haven't read Queen's Shadow, but I wholeheartedly recommend you do. It only seems natural to enrich my experience by rereading Queen's Shadow on the heels of finishing Queen's Peril.
Set just prior to The Phantom Menace, this book begins with Padmé's election to Queen of Naboo. Queen's Peril, does end up running concurrently with The Phantom Menace. We get cameos by some of our favorite characters from The Phantom Menace, including Sheev Palpatine, Qui Gon Jin, Governor Bibble, young Anakin Skywalker, and Darth Maul. In addition to the handmaidens, Captain Panaka is a significant character in this book. The Phantom Menace was my first Star Wars movie at the ripe age of eight, so the invasion of Naboo (trade dispute depending on what side you are on) was a highlight of this book. It kind of felt like From a Certain Point of View, but for The Phantom Menace since we saw the events of the movie from a perspective other than what's seen in the film.
Johnston creates a more robust character for Padmé. Even though she is fourteen in this book, I can already see her as the strong woman and leader she becomes. We are able to see Padmé's growth as a character, but in a way that aligns with The Phantom Menace. As far as I'm concerned, EK can write more of Padmé anytime she wants. Free idea for the Del Ray, the Story Group, and EK Johnston- there have to be more than a few stories that could be told set during the Clone Wars. Maybe Johnston could marry the two characters she's written, Ahsoka Tano and Padmé, to create a story.
The handmaidens are the glue to this story. They each bring their own talents, and problems, to create a more vibrant story. The handmaidens use their skills and expertise to help protect Padmé. The stuff they come up with is wicked cool. I feel they are the Q to James Bond. Which would make Panaka M, quite humorous in my opinion. The handmaidens are well set up, but keep in mind this is a YA novel. They bring up new perspectives, provide ample opportunities to build the galaxy and the culture of Naboo.
One of my favorite parts of the book is Padmé's view of the galaxy and her own planet. She is focused on the relationship with other worlds but realizes there are still things on Naboo she needs to work on, especially with the Gungans. I thought this was a bit timely and a reminder that change doesn't always have to be on a grand scale, it starts small. We can always find problems to fix right in our own backyard. And those are the ones probably worth fixing more.
If you only want battles, starships, and evil Imperial officers, this isn't the book you're looking for. However, I encourage you to have an open mind and explore the other things that Star Wars offers. Queen's Peril is Star Wars to its core. Padmé is still our hero, and she fights for what's right.
I feel inspired by all of these young women n Queen's Peril. They are all creative, open-minded thinkers, and processed an admirable dedication to the queen. Since the story is centered around young female characters, there are many fun things added to the Star Wars lore. EK Johnston does a beautiful job adding to Padmé's story. This book will make an excellent addition to your Star Wars book collection!
You can find Queen's Peril by clicking here or wherever books are sold!