Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Book Review: Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

Pros: fun, engaging protagonist, interesting alien races

Cons: takes Tula a long time to figure out something fairly obvious

For parents: kissing, some violence

Sixteen year old Tula Bane arrives on the Yertina Feray as a member of the Children of Earth on their way to colonize a new world.  But when her questioning puts her at odds with their leader, Brother Blue, she’s left for dead on the station as they move on.

Surrounded by numerous alien species who think little of isolationist humans, and with only limited knowledge of Universal Galactic, she wonders how she’ll survive, let alone get her revenge on Brother Blue.

Tin Star is a fun, quick read.  The protagonist is intelligent and quickly makes a place for herself on the station, with the help of another alien. It’s interesting watching her interact with the various alien races and, when some humans arrive on the station, realize how little she now knows about her own kind.  

The different alien races are only loosely described, allowing you some freedom in creating your mental image of them.  Similarly, while it’s clear that Tula learns how to understand them for trade purposes, a lot of their habits, customs, etc, are also left to your imagination.  I personally enjoyed this, though I imagine some readers will wish for more descriptive and explanatory passages.  The same goes for the political intrigues of the universe at large.  Changes in the outside world affect the station, but - due to problems with their communications array - the station’s information about the outside world is minimal. 

There are minor romantic elements towards the middle of the book but the focus remains on Tula and her mission to get off the station. 

My only complaint is that it takes Tula rather a long time to figure out something that seemed pretty obvious early on in the book.  And that’s a mild complaint as it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book nor did it seem the author was purposely making her blind.  It’s something a person in her circumstances wouldn’t consider.

For parents wondering about content issues, there’s no language or sex (though some scenes suggest sex may be happening off page, those passages can be interpreted either way).  There’s a little kissing and some minor violence (the protagonist is beaten in the first chapter). 

The book is self-contained, but set up for a sequel.  I really enjoyed this book and hope there’s more to come.

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