DISCLAIMER: As with our other Journey to the Force Awakens reviews, images will be taken from publicity stills for the new movie.

This review will contain NO SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


The acronym 'YA' (Young Adult) carries a bit of a stigma in some literary circles. As the median between kids' and 'adult books, YA can be seen as softer, less interesting and only appealing to a niche demographic of teens and early 20s. That is, it can be seen as such if you're not willing to ignore such rigid styles of classification and enjoy a book entirely on its own merits.

I mention this because I was hesitant about diving into Lost Stars. My past experience with 'younger' Star Wars titles - in particular those awful Young Jedi Knights books from back in the day - had given me trepidation for current ones. All those kinds of books felt diluted, as if some of the writers didn't respect the emotional intelligence and maturity of the demographic they had targeted. They were the kind of 'soft' books, even by younger readers' standards, that contribute to the ill-deserved YA stigma.

But Lost Stars, YA or no, doesn't deserve to be slapped with any stigma. Because it is damn awesome.

Unlike Aftermath, clearly billed as the first step in the umbrella 'Journey to The Force Awakens' title, Lost Stars is a hybrid Original Trilogy recontextualisation and lower deck episode. The story follows Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree, a pair of star-crossed lovers from the planet Jelucan. After a masterful used-car-salesman pitch from Grand Moff Tarkin, they join the Empire in the early days of its formation. Over time Thane and Ciena's love grows in proportion to their respective disillusionment with the Empire. Honour and loyalty threaten to tear Thane and Ciena apart while the events of the Original Trilogy - and one particular event after it - occur around them.

The spine of the story is the romance between Thane and Ciena, he a brash young man from the upper echelon and she an honour-bound woman borne from the lower class. It might sound like the kind of tawdry, teen-angst drama waiting to happen that could turn less discerning readers off YA, but it really works. Writer Claudia Gray has crafted a solid, believable relationship between our two leads, who never feel like they're pushed together for plot's sake and never become entirely co-dependent on each other (Ciena is never a damsel waiting to be rescued by the heroic Thane, and vice versa). The reasoning behind their conflicts with each other, as Thane considers leaving the Empire that Ciena is determined to continue loyally serving, is also solid and believable. If you think you've got problems when you argue with your spouse over whose turn it is to do the bins, consider what it might be like for two lovers caught in the middle of a tyrannical intergalactic regime.

Surrounding Thane and Ciena are a plethora of supporting characters, including a couple we're familiar with a bunch that quickly become the same. Though sometimes only briefly sketched out, the supporting players feel like distinct, likeable characters. As much as I liked Aftermath's cast, I cared a lot more for the actions - and deaths - of a few of Lost Stars' people, and it's a credit to Gray's writing skill that I can feel such a reaction to the passing of a character I've only know for a hundred pages or so. The dialogue also crackles, further adding to the realism of the characters. We may be in a galaxy far, far away, but a lot of these people could be going through the same stuff you are, just on a bigger, fate-of-the-galaxy-hanging-in-the-balance kind of scale.

The plot itself is also pretty invigorating. While retelling events of the films from different characters' perspectives isn't a new Star Wars trick - lookin' at you, Death Star - it's presented in such a way here that it never feels like the trilogy's events are banging you over the head. Cursory appearances from characters like Wedge Antilles (who, between this and Aftermath, seems to be getting a ton of book-related exposure recently) serve to tether the protagonists to those events without them becoming inextricably integral to them. The story focuses, for the most part, on Thane and Ciena's love story, as well as their respective duties and responsibilities to both themselves and the organisations they throw in with. That story is interesting enough on its own, and having the occasional run-in with a Death Star or a trip to Hoth amongst those personal events makes the story a clear part of the new ongoing canon.

On the subject of the writing, as opposed to Aftermath's present tense that turned a lot of people off, Lost Stars flicks between characters with a snappy third-person style which deftly articulates introspection and character's thoughts without copious pages of text. The pace is such that the book never lags; while it could stand to dwell a little on certain moments or scenes to really flesh the world out a bit more, it's refreshing to have a book that feels purposeful and on a very solid course from Page 1. This is Gray's first foray into Star Wars, and I'd certainly be keen on seeing more work from her here.

My only bone of contention is the latter section of the book, once we've gotten past the end of Return of the Jedi. While the events of the book's ending are well-handled - and provide an explanation for something seen in one of The Force Awakens' trailers - they feel somewhat rushed and compressed. I get the feeling Gray might've liked to expand some parts of that ending, but seeing as the book already clocks in at close to 600 pages that may not have been possible. As it is, that section still works pretty well.

Whether you read it and think of it as YA or not, you should really go check out Lost Stars. This is especially true for anyone who was let down by Aftermath; if the writing style, plotting and characters of that book weren't to your taste, Lost Stars may have you covered. I didn't think I'd be keen on what is ostensibly a Star Wars-inflected retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but it turned out I am when it's written this expertly. Lost Stars did not fail to impress.

Star Wars: Lost Stars is available in bookstores now.

Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens is in cinemas from December 18.

This review is part of our series on Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Other reviews from this series include:

You miss us?

Yep. I'll be the first to admit it's been far too long since we put out an instalment of the stitched-together pop culture ramblings we generously call a podcast. Unfortunately 'real life' (otherwise known as the collection of tasks we perform in order to fool others into believing that we are actually adults)  gets busy and as much as we try and make getting the podcast out in a timely fashion a priority, occasionally our other responsibilities get the better of us. The last month and a half has been one such time.

... But fear not. We are back with what I can proudly boast is a 100% organic, grass fed, preservative free episode of Read, Watch, Play! coming to you live (at the time) from Oz Comic-Con Sydney.

As well as chatting about or thoughts on the con we managed to score some interviews with some of the con's guests:

Sam Lloyd (Ted from Scrubs) and Robert Maschio (The Todd from Scrubs)- Interview at the 3 minute mark 

Writer Greg Rucka (Black Magick, Gotham Central, Lazarus) - Interview at the 23 minute mark

Writers Christian  Read (Unmasked, Karnak, The Lark Case Files) and Andrew Constant (Broken Line, Fly, Torn) from Gestalt Comics - Interview at the 33 minute mark

A big thanks to all our guests for being so generous with their time and the wonderful folks at Oz Comic-con for setting up the interviews and making us feel very welcome at their wonderful event. 

As always it would mean the world to us if you could rate us on Itunes and subscribe if you dig what we are doing. 

So without further adieu please enjoy episode eight (we accidentally call it episode nine in the opener but it is in fact episode eight) of Read, Watch, Play!

                                           Get it from Podomatic here

                                       Get it from Itunes here
Before there was Batman… there was Gotham, and now thanks to Roadshow Home Entertainment you can be in the running to win a copy of season 1 on DVD or Blu-Ray!

Everyone knows the name Commissioner Gordon. He is one of the crime world’s greatest foes, a man whose reputation is synonymous with law and order. But what is known of Gordon’s story and his rise from rookie detective to Police Commissioner?

What did it take to navigate the multiple layers of corruption that secretly ruled Gotham City, the spawning ground of the world’s most iconic villains? And what circumstances created them – the larger-than-life personas who would become Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker?

GOTHAM is the origin story of the great DC Comics Super-Villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told. From executive producer/writer Bruno Heller (The Mentalist, Rome), GOTHAM follows one cop’s rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering between good and evil, and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time.

The series stars tarring Ben McKenzie (Southland, The O.C.), Donal Logue (Sons of Anarchy, Vikings), Sean Pertwee (Elementary, Camelot), Robin Lord Taylor (The Walking Dead), Erin Richards (Being Human, Merlin), David Mazouz (Touch), Camren Bicondova, Zabryna Guevara (Burn Notice), Cory Michael Smith (Camp X-Ray, Olive Kitteridge), Victoria Cartagena (The Good Wife), Andrew Stewart-Jones (Person of Interest), John Doman (Mystic River, The Wire) and Jada Pinkett Smith (HawthoRNe, The Matrix films).

GOTHAM was released September 23rd on DVD & Blu-ray. To be in the running to win a copy answer the following question: "What Batman Character do you want to appear on the show and why?"

It's that easy! The competition will close this Sunday 27th so get Cracking! Winners will be announced on our Facebook page (you must live in Australia to be eligible)

Arrow is a fan favourite of the Geek of Oz crew for being a hard hitting action series which grabs years of the source material from decades of comics and creating an amazing new TV comic universe. Now thanks to Roadshow Home Entertainment you can be in the running to win a copy of Season 3 on DVD or Blu-Ray!

If you haven't seen the series at all or are only familiar with the DC Comics here is a quick recap:

After being lost for five years on a remote island, billionaire Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) returned home and secretly created the persona of the ARROW to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society and restore Starling City to its former glory.

The end of Season 1 saw Oliver/Arrow suffer a massive defeat, while Season 2 saw him determined to fight his battles without causing bloodshed. His sworn enemy, Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), returned to Starling City hell bent on destroying Oliver's life and caused challenges to Olivers new credo. Oliver ultimately defeated Slade aka Deathstroke and saved Starling City from Slade’s brutal army.

Season 3 opens with Arrow now a hero to the citizens of Starling City.  Crime is down, people feel safer, and Captain Lance even calls off the Anti-Vigilante Task Force.  

Basking in his success, Oliver believes he can finally have a private life and asks Felicity out on a date.  But the second Oliver takes his eye off the ball, a deadly villain reappears in Starling, forcing Oliver to realize that he can never solely be Oliver Queen – not as long as the city needs The Arrow.

The series stars Stephen Amell (Private Practice, Hung), Katie Cassidy (Melrose Place, Gossip Girl), David Ramsey (Dexter, Blue Bloods), Willa Holland (Gossip Girl, The O.C.), Emily Bett Rickards (Flicka: Country Pride), Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf, The Gates), with John Barrowman (Dr. Who, Scandal, Zero Dark Thirty) and Paul Blackthorne (The River, The Gates).  The executive producers are Greg Berlanti (Green Lantern, The Flash), Marc Guggenheim (Eli Stone, Percy Jackson:  Sea of Monsters), Andrew Kreisberg (Warehouse 13, The Vampire Diaries) and Sarah Schechter (The Flash, The Mysteries of Laura, Pan).

ARROW Season 3 releases September 23rd on DVD & Blu-ray. To be in the running to win a copy answer the following question: "Which DC Comics villain not yet on the show do you want to appear and why?"

It's that easy! The competition will close this Wednesday 23rd so get Cracking! Winners will be announced on our Facebook page (you must live in Australia to be eligible)

Also we have an added bonus for Arrow fans!

You can launch a bonus Arrow deleted scene from Season 3 using the Augmented Reality app LAYAR!

How So?
(1) Download the LAYAR app from the App Store or Google Play (it’s a small download and FREE) (2) Scan the below Arrow trigger image on your screen using a mobile device or tablet.
(3) Watch the Arrow bonus content launch! This is a deleted scene from season 3
(4) By moving your mobile device towards and away from the image you will be able to zoom in and out of the content

Most of our readers will know now that The Flash TV series has been a smash hit with us, and now thanks to Roadshow Home Entertainment you can be in the running to win a copy of season 1 on DVD or Blu-Ray!

If you haven't seen the series at all or are only familiar with the DC Comics here is a quick recap:

After being struck by lightning, CSI investigator Barry Allen awakens from a nine-month coma to discover he has been granted the gift of super speed.  Teaming up with S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry takes on the persona of The Flash, the Fastest Man Alive, to protect his city.
The series stars Grant Gustin (Glee, Arrow), Candice Patton (The Game), Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries), Danielle Panabaker (Justified, Necessary Roughness) and Carlos Valdes (Once) with Tom Cavanagh (Ed, Eli Stone, The Following) and Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order)

The TV series has been recognised for grabbing lots of the source material from decades of comics and creating an amazing fun filled action drama. There are also a few nice nods occasionally to the previous TV series.

THE FLASH releases September 23rd on DVD & Blu-ray. To be in the running to win a copy answer the following question: "What Superpower would you have and why?"

It's that easy! The competition will close this Saturday 19th so get Cracking! Winners will be announced on our Facebook page (you must live in Australia to be eligible)


While I loved the last two Disney Infinity games, there were parts that felt a little empty. The lack of matchmaking and absence of substance in some of the Playsets made the games, while fun, feel a little cold over time. There's only so much one can build replicas of famous Disney locales in the Toy Box before it becomes a little tedious.

Fortunately, Disney Infinity 3.0 has filled the emptiness of its predecessors, and added some more stuff on top of it. It's a damn good game, and most importantly it's fun - which, given what the game's mechanics and aesthetic are themed around, is kind of a prerequisite. Those who felt that the straightforward and rather empty Playsets of the previous game in particular will be pleased to know those problems have been fixed. There's much more to do here, and pretty much everything added to the Infinity experience is an improvement.

Plus, now you can have Yoda fight Thor, or team up Iron Man and Boba Fett to kick butt together. Who doesn't love that?


Infinity 3.0 covers three Playsets; the two Star Wars stories of the Clone Wars-era Twilight of the Republic and Original Trilogy Rise of the Empire, and one themed around Pixar's recent Inside Out film. Each Playset, with a good 4 or 5 specific characters native to them, follow stories within their particular settings and universes.

In a first for the series, however, all Infinity characters from the different eras of the Star Wars universe can participate in either Playset, regardless of canon. Provided you find coins similar to the ones in 2.0 that allowed Iron Man to party with the Guardians of the Galaxy, you can have Obi-Wan Kenobi (young) receive quests on Tatooine from Obi-Wan Kenobi (old), or send Kanan and Ezra from Star Wars: Rebels into the Clone Wars fray alongside Anakin and Ahsoka. It's refreshing that figures are no longer firmly rooted to just a single Playset and the Toy Box, and the story is enhanced by its ability to mess with canon and not take itself too seriously that way.

The Playsets here harken back to the engaging rollicks I found in the Pirates and Incredibles Playsets from the first game. 2.0 suffered a little from having the New York settings feel devoid of colour and action, the sidequests relying mostly on different versions of 'go smack this guy and his bunch of Frost Giant buddies to proceed'. Thankfully, Disney have improved the experience here; the sidequests are improved, both from a story and gameplay perspective, and the worlds all feel more vibrant and full of life.


It's virtually the same in terms of core mechanics as the previous two; movement, combat and vehicles are all kept pretty much the same. But really, if it ain't broke, why fix it? 3.0's simplicity of control merely makes it easier to get immersed in the worlds each Playset explores.

In addition to the advent of lightsabers, which really never gets old, characters can also execute complex button-presses for different attack combos. Each level up provides you with a quick tutorial on the best way to slice an enemy into little plastic parts, and I like that the game gets you to demonstrate you can pull it off before continuing. The skill trees have also separated their branches into separate sections - ranged attack, close combat, special abilities etc - making them easier to navigate and decide what kind of ability path you want to pursue.

While the controls for vehicles are pretty much unchanged, the flying controls feel a little awkward at times. A few rail shooter-esque sections in spacecraft can control a little haphazardly, and it can be very easy to crash into an asteroid and render your character into nothing but plastic ash. It's an ultimately minor quibble, though.

Of particular note is the Toy Box Takeover game, available in stores from October. To say I had - well, am having, I'm still playing at time of writing - fun with this is an understatement. This, to me, is what Infinity should've had from the start. It's a top-down, Diablo-esque adventure game where, after Syndrome steals Mickey Mouse's magic wand, you pick a character (or, in my case, half a dozen) and progress through a variety of worlds, battling iconic mooks and boss enemies, to get the wand back. It takes some of the core ideas behind last game's Escape from the Kyln and improves on them, mostly through having a greater variety of enemies to fight, settings to explore and treasures to find. The addition of different difficulties also makes it a more challenging experience (hence the dozen characters; some of them die pretty quickly on Hard). I can't recommend Toy Box Takeover enough. The Playsets are fun, most definitely, but Takeover is where 3.0 shines brightest for me.

The Toy Box itself is also a smoother experience, improving as always on the already fine quality of past games. There are more things added to the store, and the tutorials on how to manage certain toys and mechanics are well-implemented. There's also an online matchmaking option added through Flynn's Arcade from TRON, allowing you to connect with other players rather than relying on local multiplayer or people from your friends list. If, like me, you're part of the Minecraft creation game crowd, you'll get a lot out of this as well as the Playset campaigns.


The aesthetic of the previous games is maintained here; cartoonish, exaggerated and unique. The Clone Wars-era and Inside Out characters closely resemble their animated counterparts, and the Original Trilogy folks - due for release in October - have made the transition well, too.

The game runs a lot smoother than its forebears, at least on the PS4, and worlds look a lot more distinctive and visually gorgeous than previous games. The colour palettes for each Playset enhance the visuals, making them more immersive than the sterile greys and browns of New York in 2.0 particularly.


Sound design is great. The effects from the Star Wars films - lightsaber swings, blaster shots, Darth Vader's respiratory difficulties - are reproduced perfectly here. I also have to give props for using the original John Williams score through the Star Wars Playsets, adding a real sense of cinematic majesty to the proceedings.

Voice acting...not so great. Some of the line deliveries are a little awkward, but I guess that's not what we're here for. To nitpick that too much would be missing the fun forest for the finicky trees. Maybe stick to the films if you're after an authentic vocal experience.


I really can't express how much I love Disney Infinity 3.0. This review may have seemed gushy and largely devoid of hard-hitting criticism, but if the biggest quibble I can come up with is that the spaceships handle a little oddly then you know it's a good game. As with its two older siblings, 3.0 is subjective to taste - if you're not into the cartoon aesthetic and childlike charm of the experience, this might not be your thing. But, as someone who is into the cartoon aesthetic and childlike charm (and, lest we forget, the ability to do things like have Captain America fight Sam Flynn in a protracted 'who has the stronger disc' competition), I heartily recommend Disney Infinity's latest incarnation.

If nothing else, it's a hell of a lot of fun.

- Chris

Disney Infinity 3.0, as well as the Twilight of the Republic and Inside Out Playsets,
are available now for Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Wii U.

The Rise of the Empire Playset and Toy Box Takeover Toy Box game expansion
 are available October 2015.

Review copy supplied to Geek of Oz by Disney Australia.
Given there’s not too much out at the cinema worth shouting about at the moment, I suggest you check out Kill Me Three Times. It's a darkly comedic film about hitman Charlie Wolfe (Simon Pegg) who’s having one of those classic bad days. Death and destruction is the order of the day, as a relatively simple contract killing quickly spins out of control, with poor Charlie continuously in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Directed by Kriv Stenders (Red Dog) who delivers an entertaining little film which flaunts the picturesque Western Australian shooting locations. Kill Me Three Times will appeal to anyone who got a kick out of films like You’re Next, Seven Psychopaths and Getting Square; the David Wenham/Sam Worthington film from a few years back.

Kill Me Three Times is available on Blu Ray, DVD and digital platforms from the 9th of September.

Make sure you check out the Kill Me Three Times experience here.

- Stu