December 13, 2013

Title: Tin Star

Series: Tin Star, Book One

Author: Cecil Castellucci

Expected Publication: February 25th, 2014

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press / MacMillan

Pages: 240

Source: NetGalley

Summary from Goodreads: 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.

Average Goodreads Rating (as of 12/12/2013): 3.87

  • Christina thought this title was a bit of a disappointment. Sadly, it goes on her bottom shelf.

**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition. 

 Initial Thoughts and Rating: *strokes the very pretty cover* I was duped again by beauty on the outside. I had high hopes for this novel, but ultimately, I was left frustrated with several elements of the story. I don’t know, perhaps this will be a case of the second novel exceeding every expectation and to draw the reader deeper into the series, but I fear I’ll be missing that train because I was less than impressed by the first. However, I’m giving this a two-star rating instead of a one because the last quarter of the book finally picked up and I almost liked where the author was headed with it. If only that action would have arrived sooner. Alas, it did not and I was bored for the most part.

The Lowdown: Intergalactic travel is not new to the aliens, but humans are just now learning to colonize the stars and take residence on planets tucked away in the Universe. It’s a political topic of great discussion back on Earth, and as it stands now, all those that abandon Earth’s atmosphere are considered treasonous and not permitted to come back. Still under her mother’s care, Tula and her little sister, along with their mother, join a group known as Children of Earth guided by the wise, admirable colonist leader, Brother Blue. Tula becomes one of his favorites and is taken under his wing and gets special privileges not afforded to the other human travelers, but there’s a darkness in him that he covers with all his charismatic ways.

All is going well on the mission aboard the Prairie Rose until an unexpected emergency occurs and they have to dock at a space station, the Yertina Feray. Circumstances arise that cause young Tula to grow suspicious and when she questions Brother Blue’s authority, she finds herself nearly beaten to death and deserted aboard the space station.

With failed attempts to contact any human in all the many galaxies and nowhere to turn, Tula takes up residence aboard Yertina Feray permanently. Under the care of a few special aliens, Tula learns not only to survive, but to thrive. Though she lives a life of almost-comfortable ease, Tula plots her revenge and waits for the opportunity to strike back.

♦ My Thoughts: I’m not going to lie, I love space travel in novels. I believe it affords any author so much creative freedom– to build beautiful worlds that house unique characters, to blow my mind with crafty plots– because there’s so little that we truly know about the universe to base opinions on. For me, that’s where this book lacked the most. Aside from a few– okay, there were really only two main secondary ones– characters, I never felt like my imagination was allowed to take a journey into the great unknown. For me, there wasn’t any magic to the planets or the writing. I wanted to be in awe of this space station filled with so many major species of aliens, but I often felt like all the details were glossed over. Where splendor and magnificence had root to take shape and wow me, I only felt pacified with empty hulls and brief interactions with these other beings. To put it bluntly, I was so underwhelmed. All the characters lacked personality and I never felt any growth in Tula’s character. If I’m being honest, I never felt connected to her character at all. As the narrator of the book, it felt so weird to not relate to her in some way or feel emotional tethered to her.

As for the plot, it meandered and dragged and came to a dead-halt in some places. It lacked direction and focus, and I wasn’t really sure where the author was going at any given point in the novel. We were immediately thrown into the story, but after the initial action, there was little-to-no plot progression throughout the entire book for me. (I usually finish a book in a day, maybe two, but I spent almost two weeks on this novel. I hardly ever felt invested, and so I would always find a reason to set it aside.) Tin Star covers years of Tula living on the space station, and yet I hardly even felt like we learned about her or really got to the meat of the story aside from knowing that Tula plans to kill Brother Blue whenever she next lays eyes on him. It’s her life’s mission, to avenge herself and her family. So, we go through this whole novel with this chip on her shoulder and when the opportunity finally reveals itself for her to take advantage, she completely freezes up. Not only that, but she lets him think he’s killed her again. It. Was. Infuriating.

Basically, my entire review can be summed up in one sentence: I wanted so much more depth in every aspect of this novel.

♦ Rec It? Sadly, I don’t think I can. At least I can’t for purchase, but maybe borrow it from the library if the premise really interests you. This story had a lot of great potential, but it fell a short for me. I wanted lively characters that I could connect to, a world I wanted to escape to, and a plot that kept me riveted. Yet, at the end, I felt like I only knew as much about Tula and the world than I did at the very beginning.

A very special thanks to Roaring Brook Press and NetGalley for providing me with an early copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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