Synopsis: 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.
Huge thank you to Macmillian and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book.
Tin Star was an impulse grab from Netgalley. I loved the cover and the premise sounded like something I’d dig. I wasn’t expecting to love the book as much as I did though.
This is my first fore ray into Castellucci’s work, and I feel like she’s a lovely writer. Her descriptions are very methodical and well-detailed, and she made it very easy to visual Tula’s world and her struggles. However, this book is a slow burn and it’s not best read when you’re aren’t in the mood to be thoughtful. There’s definitely some confusing instances in the book as well, and I found I had to reread passages for the sake of clarity.
That being said, I loved Castellucci’s portrayal of extra-terrestrials. It was interesting to learn about their hardships and distrust, it’s a familiar take on “the other,” but one that is quite easy to comprehend. We have humans again being see as the potential monsters, which worked for me.
One thing I wish the novel had more of was emotion. There’s such a huge focus on the world building and establishing who is truly the other, yet there isn’t enough focus on creating the emotional drive that the story needs so that the reader can attach themselves to the situation and really feel like they understand Tula and the conflict within the world. I enjoyed Tula’s character (especially towards the end), but I felt like she and her cast of characters could have used just a touch more development to make them memorable.
The world-building however, is fabulous. It’s very deliberate and thoughtful and I found myself very much a part of the world as I was reading the book. There’s such fleshed out descriptions of desolation and desertion, and the way it surrounds both human and alien life was completely fascinating to me. Castellucci made me enjoy aliens, which is something I’m not huge on (unless you count Mass Effect), and she made me appreciate how they can be written and even at times, sympathized with. I also LOVED the ending of this book, and I’m curious to see if this is a world Castellucci may revisit.
Tin Star is going to be a tough sell for a lot of science fiction fans, because while it has a lot of classic trope (right down to the very descriptive prose), it lacks a lot of the YA tropes that many readers may be looking for when selecting a YA science fiction novel. Still, this book plays homage to classical science fiction literature, it has a wonderful sense of discovery, the only item it lacks to make it work an emotional drive to make readers want to be a part of this world.