Hello there! Today I’m reviewing Padawan by Kiersten White, the most recent addition to the canon Star Wars books published by Disney.
Obi-Wan Kenobi struggles with his place in the Force as a young Padawan in this coming-of-age adventure!
Obi-Wan Kenobi really wants to be a good Padawan. The best Padawan, even. But that’s feeling more and more impossible with his new master, Qui-Gon Jinn. All of Obi-Wan’s friends are off training to be real Jedi, getting mission experience, while he’s still on Coruscant, practicing his forms and sitting in silent contemplation. Ever since Qui-Gon’s former master, Dooku, left the Order, it feels like Qui-Gon has been too busy trying to connect with the Force or arguing with the Jedi Council to properly train his Padawan.
When Obi-Wan finally convinces Qui-Gon to take him on a mission to a remote planet once explored by an ancient Jedi, his master doesn’t show up the morning they are to leave—so Obi-Wan impulsively takes off by himself. Upon arriving on the mysterious, lush planet, he encounters a group of teenagers with no adult supervision—and who all seem to have some connection to the Force. Free from the constraints of the Order, Obi-Wan joins them in their daring adventures, but the Padawan side of him keeps questioning the teens’ strange relationship to the Force, and to the verdant planet around them, and what all of it might mean to his future. Obi-Wan will test the limits of his relationship to the Jedi and to the Force in this exciting, yet soulful exploration of one of Star Wars’ most enduring heroes.
This book had some huge shoes to fill because I loved the Jedi Apprentice series as a child. So, the replacement of those stories with something new was always going to be a hard sell for me given the nostalgia factor of that series. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this book and enjoyed it quite a bit more than I anticipated.
Overall, it was a fun coming-of-age story for Obi-Wan. I was surprised at first by how anxious and afraid of failure this portrayal made him, but it worked really well for his age at the time and the scenario he experienced over the course of the story. He struggled to find his place within the Jedi order and overcompensated for his fear of failure by sticking rigidly to rules and trying to control everything. This unexpected adventure helped him learn to be present in the moment and trust in the force. There were interesting parallels between him and Anakin, and I could definitely see how some of Kenobi’s personality in the future could be rooted in the lessons he learned from his experiences in this story.
I really loved the setting for the story, as well. The ecosystem of the planet was fascinating and worked really well as a metaphor for the balance necessary for nature to thrive and the threat that uncontrolled human consumption has on that balance. Other relevant and timely themes were also explored in the story, including the potentially harmful effects of reliance upon tradition despite evidence to the contrary and the destructive nature of fear, greed, and lust for power. I also really liked the queer rep in the book and thought it was incorporated in a way that was perfect for these characters and their unique situation.
There was only one thing I wish this book had more of: Qui-Gon. He’s in a few scenes, and there was a ton of Obi-Wan contemplating the rocky start to his relationship with his master. However, Qui-Gon was missing from most of the book. I’m not gonna lie. I was a bit disappointed that the two of them didn’t go on this adventure together, but I’m not sure it would have worked out the same way or had the necessary impact on Obi-Wan if they had been together. So, I get why he was absent, but now I really want another story of the two of them together.
In conclusion, this was a fun coming-of-age romp where Obi-Wan had to find the balance within himself to overcome his fear of failing at the Jedi path. It had an interesting setting and compelling themes, but it didn’t quite give me everything I wanted from an Obi-Wan padawan story. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.