This story takes place at the same time as The High Republic novel, The Rising Storm, and as such, some storybeats from that novel will be present in this review.
Just like the previous wave of Star Wars High Republic content, fans can get their hands on an adult fictional, a young adult novel and/or a junior level reader. Star Wars is made for everyone and it’s great to see that not only do these stories, which target different age groups, crossover nicely with each other in some capacity, but that they stand on their own as well. Taking place at the same time as The Rising Storm, Race to Crashpoint Tower is a light, albeit not particularly deep, adventure from Daniel José Older.
The novel takes place once again on the planet Valo in the wake of the Republic Fair. Vernestra Rhow, from the previous junior novel Star Wars The High Republic: A Test of Courage, is no longer the protagonist of this story. Though she’s still an important part of this tale, instead we follow the exploits of Jedi Padawan Ram Jamoram, who notices that the communications tower on Valo has been tampered with. With the help of his trusty droid, V-18 (who is full of sass, as one might expect from these droids), and some new friends he meets on the way, Ram must race to the tower to try and call for help as the Nihil unleash a devastating attack on the fair; an event that’s depicted more fully and brutally in Star Wars the High Republic: The Rising Storm. At the same time, on the planet Trymant IV, Jedi Master Sy and his apprentice, Lula (from The High Republic Adventures by Older) have their own mission that runs parallel to Ram’s until they inevitably connect on Valo.
I went into the previous junior level reader, Star Wars the High Republic: A Test of Courage, with a bit of doubt and reservation but found myself pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Unfortunately, lightning didn’t strike twice for me in this particular age group. I found Older’s writing style to be a bit all over the place and unfocused, as he jumped around much too quickly without establishing the scene well enough. It’s not always clear as to what’s going on, where’s it’s happening and to whom. Likewise, there’s too many plot conveniences (or inconveniences) that help propel the story forward and there’s a hilarious overreliance on the Jedi mind trick to solve problems.
The overall tale connect to The Rising Storm more closely than A Test of Courage did to Light of the Jedi, but this feels more like a side quest to that story that got expanded into a junior novel. The race to a fixed location, without much in the way of backstory or context, makes the event feel rushed and unfocused. Aside from enjoying engines more than people, I found I didn’t get to know anything about Ram Jamoram in this short adventure.
That said, when the plot shifts to Lula’s point of view, the story proved to be much more interesting and focused than when Ram was the protagonist. Her story begins more directly into the greater threat of the Nihil and what exactly Marchion Ro is up to in Rising Storm and overall, she’s just much more interesting and developed. I think this tale would have been better served as the primary narrative as she’s a far more compelling character. Likewise, because of this, the story does improve as it goes along and the two tales naturally come together, but I found the pacing and story sufferered quite a bit when we focused on Ram. Likewise, we get more scenes with Ty Yorrick, the Jedi turned mercenary from The Rising Storm in this tale and get to see events from that novel from a different point of view as a result.
Star Wars the High Republic: Race to Crashpoint Tower is a fun tale for children who may not be particularly strong readers. I found the overall tale worked well having already read The Rising Storm as it fills in some critical information pertaining to the Nihil attack and to Ty Yorrick, the monster hunter introduced in The Rising Storm, but on its own, the story lacked emotional depth and interesting characters.
Star Wars The High Republic: Race to Crashpoint Tower is available on June 29th, 2021.