Quest for Planet X: A bold and fundamental piece of The High Republic phase 2 puzzle

Quest for Planet X. Image courtesy Chelsea Tatham Zukowski
Quest for Planet X. Image courtesy Chelsea Tatham Zukowski /

The latest High Republic phase two story has all the best attributes of the middle-grade novels that came before it: heart, humor, dynamic struggles, and emotional growth that make it extraordinarily relatable to all ages. The High Republic: Quest for the Planet X also has quite possibly the best description of hyperspace science ever seen in a Star Wars book.

Oh, and a Jedi Padawan deflects starship cannon fire using just her two lightsabers and the Force – all while floating in space.

In a direct sequel to George Mann’s Quest for the Hidden City, the book follows up with Jedi Padawan Rooper Nitani and prospector’s son Dass Leffbruk. The two youngsters (Rooper is 15 and Dass is 12) are stationed on Batuu in Black Spire Outpost. It’s there they get convinced to go on an adventurous and complicated adventure to find the mysterious Planet X.

Along for the ride is Sky Graf, a member of the infamous and wealthy Graf hyperspace prospecting family, and pilot of their brother’s ship, the Brightbird. Once together and zipping through hyperspace during the Great Hyperspace Chase competition, they quickly become a trio of best friends.

But then they cross paths with the Path of the Open Hand, and joining their journey is Fel Ix — you’ll remember the Kessarine from Path of Deceit. A wrench in their plans at first, the inclusion of Fel Ix becomes the perfect way to explore conflicting beliefs about the Force.

Fel Ix and Rooper also find common ground, especially in their love of and reverence for the power of the Force. This is a small-scale resolution, but it’s also a glimpse at what could be if two warring parties look beyond their differences and work together for peace.

The action and adventure parts of Quest for Planet X are just plain fun, but there are other moments more consequential to the characters and the Star Wars universe at large.

Like the young adult novels, the middle-grade offerings tend to take a more character-centric focus. And in Quest for Planet X, Rooper, Dass, and Sky get the full treatment as they navigate personal growth and evolving emotional maturity. All three, though different ages, experience the tipping point between being a child and being a young adult in this journey that takes them away from their parents and guardians.

Rooper experiences an intense moment where she is forced to shield her friends from starship cannon blasts using just her two lightsabers and her faith in the Force. It’s a serious Anakin Skywalker moment, and I would be surprised if it doesn’t eventually factor into her Jedi Knight trials — even if we don’t see them.

Sky’s story is also a crucial moment for The High Republic era and Star Wars as a whole. Sky is non-binary, and their pronouns are immediately accepted by all and never questioned. They also explain their struggles with their own identity and how important their father was in guiding them through that — including buying them their first chest binder.

Their inclusion represents the largest part for a non-binary character in Star Wars we’ve seen so far.

It cannot be overstated how important it is to have that LGBTQ+ representation in a book for middle-grade readers — kids ages 3-12. Especially at a time when so many books with LGBTQ+ stories and authors are being challenged and removed from library shelves.

Seeing yourself represented in a piece of fictional media like Star Wars is a beautiful experience. And I’m so glad to think about all the people who may see themselves represented in Sky and their journey in Quest for Planet X.

The middle-grade novel — which was released on April 4 alongside Cataclysm — is a fun, unpredictable story that sprinkles in key details about the aftermath of The Battle of Jedha. It’s also set during the events of Cataclysm, giving a different and worrisome perspective of those who have no idea what’s happening on Dalna.

The question of “Do I have to read this book” will inevitably arise, as it does with every new middle-grade and young adult release. You’ll still get a full story if you stick to just the adult and YA books. But skipping the middle-grades like Quest for Planet X makes you miss out on some of the most dynamic and developed characters in The High Republic.

It’ll also rob you of the chance to fully understand the mechanics of hyperspace prospecting — basically, a different plane of space where “lanes” are charted using short hyperspeed jumps and special beacons.

Quest for Planet X is a can’t-miss Star Wars read, lively and fast-paced with all the right elements to add more depth to The High Republic phase two.

Related Story. Review: Star Wars: Quest for the Hidden City is a delightfully spooky High Republic adventure. light

Star Wars: The High Republic: Quest for Planet X is available now from wherever you get books.