Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure is one of three books released written for middle school readers (grades 5-9), along with The Weapon of a Jedi (Luke) and Smuggler’s Run (Han). I was particularly excited for a Princess Leia book for this age group as this is an area I felt had, until recently, been neglected by the franchise in general. With books like Moving Target, my faith in Disney feels rewarded.
My optimism, however, turned to concern when Padawan, who normally runs upstairs to her bedroom and curls down with new books, disappearing for hours, instead returned to our dining room and said, “I started it, but I have homework to do.”
Homework over reading Star Wars? Either eighth grade was harder than expected, or was it Moving Target itself? So instead of Padawan, I began reading Moving Target.
The story is set is right after The Empire Strikes Back. Leia is worried about Han but reluctant to fully own her concerns for him over the Rebellion itself. After meeting with Rebel Alliance leaders and an awkward conversation with Mon Mothma about love, Leia is sent on a dangerous mission to divert the attention of the Empire. The story picks up pace when Leia joins her team. Nien Nunb has a nice role and it’s fun to see the movie characters fleshed out. The other characters are enjoyable as well without being overly clichéd.
I enjoyed Leia’s internal struggles the most. She wrestles with ethical issues in a thoughtful and feeling manner, while figuring out what doing the right thing really means. I am glad to see a book address the emotional toll of war, including Leia’s feeling about being tortured on the Death Star.
The pace was slow at the beginning, which failed to keep Padawan’s attention – the target audience – and some of scenes were cheesy. (Really, the team is dressed like Hawaiian tourists?). There are some hints of things to come and overall, once I got into the story, I enjoyed it. Most importantly, it is appropriate and thought provoking for its target age.
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