24 February 2014

Review: Tin Star

Tin Star
Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been a fan of Cecil Castellucci for some time now. I haven't read everything she's done, but she's always had interesting takes on the things that I have read. Noticing that she was taking a dive into science fiction was an exciting opportunity for me, and so I looked forward to seeing what she was going to do with the genre. The great news is that the book is pretty solid, but it's a lot darker and starker than one might expect.

The story itself is both fairly typical and still feels unique. Tula is beaten and left stranded on a space station during a colony ship's diversion. She has little to her name and less ability to get much of anything accomplished, and all she can do now is try to survive. She befriends a winged alien, becomes part of the station's scavenger culture, and the story is pretty much a survival tale in a diverse city landscape with some plans for revenge.

What worked best for me here is partially because there's so little competent, solid science fiction we get for the young adult age group. It's refreshing to read a science fiction YA book that isn't just another dystopia, as well as one that doesn't have a love triangle at its center. Tula's interactions with the society around her, as well as the space station itself, is a bold and different direction that reminds me of a lot of good science fiction reads, and it can absolutely be taken as an allegory for diversity and acceptance on its own as well. There's definitely a little bit for everyone here.

If there are flaws, it might be its overall accessibility. Part of it is the little niche Castellucci has carved out for herself - I went in with a certain expectation, and the result didn't match. Part of it, though, is that this really reads more adult than young adult in many ways, up to and including some of the ways she tries to get by and survive. It's realistic, for sure, but I question whether this would appeal the same way to the intended audience.

Overall, a great read. Dark and creepy, sometimes unsettling, but a fast-paced, interesting ride nonetheless.

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