How Star Wars Engages The Younger Audience
Two significant events happened in the world of Star Wars last week. The one that garnered the most attention was of course the second official trailer for the upcoming anthology story, Rogue One. This footage was nearly impossible to avoid merely moments after it went online, and every detail has already been scrutinized and thoroughly analyzed by every fan with a webcam or keyboard.
The Rogue One trailer gives us our best look yet at the plan to steal the Death Star plans and fill in just a few of the remaining story gaps between the prequel trilogy and the original movie. We see a bit more of Darth Vader, get to know our heroes better, and a few teases of how the film might expand the mythology of the universe.
But earlier this week, Star Wars fans were treated to another form of in-universe storytelling when the official Ahsoka novel by EK Johnston was released. This book fills in some of the events that took place between The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series, and offers another look at a beloved character.
Ahsoka is an interesting character in the Star Wars lore. Introduced in The Clone Wars cartoon, she initially came off like too much of a forced foil to Anakin’s brooding tone, but quickly grew to a fan-favorite as she matured and trained as a Jedi. When Clone Wars met an early end, Ahsoka’s fate was a looming question in the Star Wars universe. As Anakin’s apprentice, her absence in Revenge of the Sith was an important question that fans were expecting an answer to.
This new book explores what happened between Ahsoka’s disappearance in Clone Wars and her return in Rebels. It gives a glimpse of the Siege of Mandalore and life immediately after the Empire rose to power in the galaxy far, far away. What’s most notable about this novel, though, is its intended audience. The book is one of the few Young Adult novels released under Disney’s official rebranding of the Star Wars canon. Other works have included Claudia Gray’s excellent Lost Stars, which plays out like a Romeo and Juliet story set in the backdrop of the original Star Wars trilogy.
Despite their tag as YA books, these stories are still excellent pieces of Star Wars lore. Ahsoka rarely feels dumbed down or simplified and isn’t afraid to address some serious situations.
With the animated series and YA novels, Star Wars is making an important effort to include the younger side of fans. Rogue One looks appropriately dark and honors the aesthetic that many remember from the original films, but maybe not the most appropriate for children. Star Wars has always had a diverse, hungry fanbase and its good to see that much of the fiction and world-building is still accessible to the younger side of the audience.