Tin Star


By Cecil Castellucci
Published on February 25th 2014
Published by Roaring Brook Press

Source: ARC from publisher
On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist's leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.

When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula's desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind.
Because I'm tired and cold and sore at the moment, here are my thoughts on Tin Star in list form.

Things that worked:
  • The worldbuilding was excellent.  A lot of thought and care was put into shaping the politics of the galaxy, the nuances of all of the different alien species, the science/tech, the hierarchy of species, etc.  I'm a sucker for this sort of worldbuilding, probably because I am downright terrible at it, so it was awesome to imagine how much work had to go into fleshing that all out.  Since this book appears to be the first in a series (it doesn't have a definitive ending and clearly sets things up for a sequel), I'd be excited to see how things continue to grow in the next book.
  • Even though a human is our main character, I enjoyed reading a YA book about aliens and space travel where the aliens are really alien.  None of these characters could pass for humans, and it was a nice change of pace from all of the alien/sci-fi I've read where the aliens are just hotter humans with special abilities.
  • The supporting characters, particularly Heckleck and Tournour, are great fun and also full of surprises, and I enjoyed watching Tula learn from both of them and form friendships.  We don't learn all too much about them -- probably because we're reading from Tula's perspective, and she remains distant even from the others closest to her -- but they're two characters who I definitely enjoyed reading about.
  • Alright, so this is vague because spoilers, but there is something that happens/is revealed at the end that is so out of left field and it's normally something that would annoy me, but I actually loved it and really hope that the author actually goes down that path that was opened up in the next book because it would be so unconventional that I think I could forgive just about anything else that I didn't like about this one.
Things that didn't work for me:
  • The main romance for Tula felt totally unnecessary.  Like, she hardly interacted at all with this character, outside of maybe two conversations, some glances, and then making out.  This wasn't an epic space romance, it was a hook-up.  Which is just fine, but let's not try to pretend it's anything else.  One one hand, I get it, Tula's been the only human on the Yertina Feray for years and she misses human companionship more than she realized, but the romance didn't do anything to further the plot or teach us anything about Tula that couldn't have been accomplished by her just being friends with the guy in question.
  • The writing felt very dry and emotionless. Probably because we're seeing things through Tula's perspective, and she's very cut-and-dry, but aside from the opening chapters, where Tula is left for dead on the space station, it was hard to make a connection to even the most emotional of scenes.    There's a lot of telling rather than showing, and I feel like we never really get to know Tula and what drives her, other than revenge.  I had a hard time caring about most of the characters because everything is presented to the reader in a very detached way.
  • This book really just felt like the setup for a sequel.  I feel like this book and the hypothetical sequel could probably have been combined together and with some judicious editing, could have made for one longer but more cohesive book.  Tin Star doesn't have much by way of an ending -- sure, the story reaches a climax, but there aren't really any resolutions for Tula, so the reader is left hanging until the next book comes out, and for books that aren't billed off the bat as part of a series, it can be kind of frustrating as a reader to know you're not getting the whole picture.
If there's a sequel, I'll check it out, because I'm interested enough in the worldbuilding to want to know more.  Overall, I think that Tin Star was a good book that could have been great.  It was entertaining, and I read it fairly quickly, but there just seemed to be something missing, ultimately.

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1 comment:

  1. Hmm.. I don't think that I will read this one. While the world-building sounds very cool, the rest just doesn't strike my fancy. I think it might be because of just how sci-fi it really is. I have been opening up to sci-fi lately, and really enjoying it, but I don't know if I am quite ready for full blown aliens and outerspace and such. Maybe if it was a book that was getting raving reviews, I would be more willing to try it.

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