Chronologically speaking, Moving Target by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry (with illustrations by Phil Noto) is the third of three young reader novels released last year on Force Friday. And–in my opinion–it’s the best of the trio. My favorite of all the “new canon” books is still Lost Stars; but Moving Target is up there somewhere.
Smuggler’s Run, and The Weapon of a Jedi take place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, while the events depicted in Moving Target occur just prior to Return of the Jedi. When I say “just prior to,” I mean weeks–maybe a month or so. Part of me wishes that I could go back in time and and hand this book to my younger self in early May 1983.
The problem with that is I would have to tell myself to just ignore the prologue and epilogue, because spoilers. Next, I would have to explain why it is took so long for Episode VII to come out. Then there is the Disney logo on the title page. Finally, I would tell myself to lower my expectations regarding the prequels.
In the prologue to Moving Target, General Leia Organa is dictating her memoirs to a droid called PZ-4CO, a.k.a. “Peazy.” (Yeah, I know.) Leia decides to discuss the topic of duty by telling the story of Operation: Yellow Moon, which is the mission that preceded the Battle of Endor. Well… Actually… Yellow Moon preceded the rescue of Han Solo–but you know what I mean.
Joining Leia on the mission are: Nien Nunb, a tinkerer/explosives expert, a communications specialist, and a commando. Without spoiling it for you; they are tasked with a mission to the opposite side of the galaxy, in the hope that the Empire will think the Alliance has no knowledge of the under construction Death Star. Good luck with that!
Moving Target introduced a number of new characters to the Star Wars galaxy, but my favorite character in the novel is someone who has been around for decades, but hasn’t gotten the attention he deserves. Of course I am talking about Nien Numb. As it turns out–he’s really funny. I hope he makes more appearances in future novels.
I cannot say that Moving Target is a perfect novel, by any means. The part of the story that takes place on Sesid gets a bit silly. So much so, I had to keep reminding myself it’s for the kids. If you can put up with the goofy bits, I think this is a rewarding and enlightening read. In a sense, Moving Target is not all that different from Return of the Jedi–and that’s not a bad thing.