March 25, 2014

Review: Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

Title: Tin Star (Tin Star #1)
Author: Cecil Castellucci
Release Date: February 25th, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Page Count: 240
Source: ARC from publisher
(I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest
review. No favors were exchanged, my opinions are my own.)

First Reaction: Eh... I'm just gonna stop here (i.e. 100 pages in).
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. 

[Summary Source: Goodreads]


Tula is the perfect cult member. She listens, does as she's told, and is an all around suck up. But when she starts asking too many questions, here cult leader, Brother Blue, beats her and leaves her behind as her mother and sister get on a rocket ship that explodes in space (but not with Brother Blue on it). Tula then takes up residence in the space station she was left in, but they're not really keen on having her (the sole human on the station) around - because these aliens don't really like humans. Tula only survives because an alien named Heckleck takes her under his wing. Years pass and Tula remains the only human on the station until three other humans show up and whispers of Brother Blue surface. Desperate for revenge, Tula begins her search for Brother Blue anew, all the while encountering humans for the first time in years. And there might be some romance. It seemed like there would be but I stopped reading before that came up.

Why I DNFed:

Oh dear.

I love me some sci-fi. I really do. When I requested this title I was bouncing up and down gleefully.

But then I started reading and it was all sci-fi, all alien-description, all world-building and I was like: I barely feel like I know Tula at all. She didn't really get sad about her mom and sister dying. She doesn't really have a reaction to being abandoned by her cult. Her response to being the only human surrounded by aliens is lackluster. She really just tends to go from one thing to the next. Nothing really phases her and I don't feel any real emotion from her. I get that she has to stay under the radar on the ship, but I wish I felt more from her in the prose, if not the dialogue. The only real emotion I felt throughout the entirety of the first 100 pages was a weak drive for revenge and it didn't make me feel anything for Tula.

I think the only character I was invested in was the space station leader and he was in and out for the most random reasons. Like, one minute he's floating around, doing his thing, and monitoring Tula, then the next he's just... gone? His departure's only noted as a footnote a bit later on.

However, the sci-fi and the world-building in this book is the best. Really solid and vivid. There are so many layers and so much history I almost want to make a chart and start taking notes like I'm in a history class, it's all so fascinating and I want to commit it to memory. It's really unfortunate I couldn't connect to the main character quickly enough. (I might have given this book more time to step into itself but I read 100/240 pages and I felt like I should've been better situated at that point and I didn't want to carry on any longer.)

The long and short of it?

Plot: The bare bones are there but the feels are missing...
World Building: Stellar.
Character Development: Flatlined pretty early on.
Prose: Technical yet totally readable.
Would I Recommend This Book?: If you're into hard sci-fi that isn't particularly character driven, this is the book for you!

Have you read this one? Does it get better? Do you think I should go back and push through? And if you haven't read, do you think you will? Let me know in the comments below!