Most Wanted: A Review
Most Wanted Review
by Franklin Taylor
What happens in life, when you are stuck going in circles? Your self-worth is shot. You must do what you can to survive, but the daily struggle is just like swimming in a frozen lake. Only you are trapped under the ice looking skyward. And one day the ice shatters. You go to the surface. Breathe air. See the land around you, and all the new potential of a different tomorrow. Then you are dragged back below the surface. What would you do next? Below is my review of “Most Wanted” by Rae Carson.
Going into Most Wanted
I have read both “The Red One” short story from the anthology novel From a Certain Point of View, and “Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing” novella from the four story Canto Bight novel by writer Rae Carson. In both stories we are presented, with background characters from the movies getting the spotlight in their own stories that felt genuine and relatable (one being focused on a droid and the other a masseur). If Carson was able to connect me to characters I had very little connective tissue from the movies, then I was beyond excited to dive into Most Wanted, which focuses on a young Han Solo, and the introduction of Qi’ra: two scrumrats working for the White Worms gang on Corellia.
Diving Into the Novel
Having watched the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story beforehand, I knew what was to become of Han and Qi’ra. What was interesting is there are some things the novel does not get into since there is a space of time from it’s conclusion to the opening scene in Solo. I found this to be a great approach in this novel, as the novel is able to stand on its own instead of being a prologue to the movie.
I did go into this novel with certain expectations after watching Solo: A Star Wars Story. Mainly, I knew Han and Qi’ra already had a strong connection by the time of the opening scene of Solo, and that they were not going to be close at the beginning of Most Wanted (though that through the course of their adventure fall head over heels for each other). Basically, I went in thinking the story was going to have the two main characters find a passionate connection, but in reality it was more unconditional. Through each other’s actions they found a respect for each other that was just so heartwarming.
The structure of the Most Wanted was such a page turner to me. We got to jump between Han and Qi’ra’s points of view, as they each got a unique assignment by the leader of the White Worm gang to complete on an illegal auction. Things go south, and we get to see how each main character is able to use their skills and knowledge to their advantage. As more complications built, I had to keep going as I wanted to know how it would all shake out.
“When in doubt, brazen it out.” - Han
If I were to describe the overall story of Most Wanted, it was the impetus to Han and Qi’ra being motivated to reach for the stars and leave Corellia. I did not want the story to end. I hope we get more of the Han and Qi’ra from Most Wanted and the opening scene in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Maybe the novelization of Solo will spend more times on the streets of Corellia? I’ll find out in September… As for how Rae Carson wrote her characters in Most Wanted, I got swept away in the story, which was delightful to read. It was also great to have a story less focused on rebelling against the Empire as this story was about a conflict in the underworld of Corellia.
Now, I do not usually pull back the curtain to reveal the music I listen to while reading (mostly because it is just Star Wars soundtracks). However, I was trying something different while reading Most Wanted. I made a playlist of select tracks from Solo (“The Adventures of Han,” “
Meet Han,” “Corellia Chase,” “Spaceport,” “Lando’s Closet,” & “Testing Allegiances”). The rest of my playlist was Chrono Trigger: Orchestral Selections Vol. I by Malcolm Robinson. Robinson covered select music from the video game Chrono Trigger in his orchestral remix. I do want to preface that I only played the video game a limited amount of time, so my connections to the music may be different to those that know how the music relates to Chrono Trigger’s story. I found shuffling between the two soundtracks enhanced my investment to the Most Wanted. Two tracks in particular from the Chro Trigger covers stood out. First was “Frog’s Theme” as I had gravitated toward it being Han’s theme. To me it represented Han as being adventurous as he brazened through the story, but also tender in how he connected unspokenly to people. Second was “Manoria Cathedral” as it became to me Qi’ra’s theme. To me it represented Qi’ra as soaring through the sky above the troubles that she dealt with on the surface. Where she has the potential for so much more if she just reaches out to grab it.
The story of Most Wanted was a wonderful ride from start to finish. We got to meet Qi’ra and Han before the events in the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story and how they came to find a connection between each other. The progression of Han and Qi’ra felt believable and made me want to see their story continue. The story is important as the events that take place in this novel changed their shatterpoint going forward. Since the story is on a smaller scale it is great to pick up and read. In a way, it felt in line with The Clone Wars and Rebels TV show, where we got a very focused character driven story arc. I don't have a point of reference to the Legend backstory of Han Solo, so I would not be able to really comment on that (I did read Han Solo at Stars’ End, but that would be closer on the timeline to A New Hope).
I do hope we get more stories focused on Qi’ra! I would like it if we got a novel by Beth Revis or Janine K. Spendlove of Qi’ra set during that three years period in the Solo: A Star Wars Story after the opening scene. So much is implied to have happened during that time frame! Rae Carson has taken my interest of Qi’ra’s character to a new level from reading Most Wanted. I can only imagine what more stories will do. I am glad that Rae Carson has continued to write in the Star Wars sandbox. If she writes again for Star Wars, I will absolutely check it out.
After You Read Most Wanted
Most Wanted does a great job as a standalone story. This time around I don't have any recommendations for stories to read beforehand, but I have two other stories to read afterwards! I am assuming you have already seen Solo: A Star Wars Story and the other Star Wars movies after Most Wanted:
Lost Stars by Claudia Gray:
What is wonderful about this story (review found here) is how it takes a different point of view of the saga events to tell a new unique story about Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell. Reading this after Most Wanted adds to the movies, but also springs you forward to the next novel I recommend. Recently, the first volume of the manga adaptation has released in the United States, which I highly recommend.
Last Shot by Daniel José Older:
Now this story (review found here) jumps around on mainly three timelines (story between Han Solo and Lando Calrissian a couple years after Lost Stars ends, a story of Lando with the Millenium Falcon closer to the events of Most Wanted, and Han with the Millenium Falcon after the events of Solo). After having Most Wanted and Lost Stars in the back of your mind, this story will become even better. In a way, where Most Wanted is the beginning of the free spirit of Han, Last Shot is the ending chapter. What he becomes afterwards is still the scruffy looking nerf herder, but with a new purpose in life.
Have you read Most Wanted? Let us know your thoughts!