Tin Star, the prequel to Stone in the Sky, is a pretty decent sci-fi YA book with the target audience of new sci-fi readers. The world is intriguing enough yet the amount of sci-fi elements including the aliens is slightly slacking. We also find the writing to be flat, as previously discussed here.
Stone in the Sky follows the tale of Tula Bane as she continues to do her best to survive in the space station that she has landed herself on in the first book. After slowly establishing her own place in the social world, Tula finds herself in hot water once again when her archenemy Brother Blue comes to destroy her hard work. As a result, she has to leave the space station and those she loves behind to develop a new strategy while struggling to survive all over again.
The writing style of Cecil Castellucci really bothers me a lot in Tin Star and the similar problem also dwells in this sequel. Most sentences lack the emotional attachment that one longs for in a book and they often have a flat tone. However, while the writing in the first book causes one’s mind to drift away easily, perhaps due to the slow pace of the plot, it works just fine in Stone in the Sky. As the world has already been developed decently in the first one, Castellucci is able to focus more on the plot development and thus the fast-paced nature of the plot makes it easier to be engaged.
The aspect of trading and bartering that I absolutely adore in the first book can also be found in Stone in the Sky and I am glad that Cecil Castellucci has toned slightly down on it so as to not overdo it. The political world of the aliens that I also come to love in Tin Star is explored in greater detail here and it is highly intriguing. Instead of further developing the characteristics of the aliens, the author has focused on developing the social structure of the aliens. Personally, this works in my favour as I prefer to read about the intriguing fictional world than about aliens.
One thing that is slightly bothering is the romance in Stone in the Sky. While the romance per se has been developed nicely, meaning that it is not instant romance or without chemistry, it is disturbing in the sense that Tula is actively engaged with both her lovers. She plays on alien’s lack of jealousy and continues to hang on to both on them without any bit of remorse.
In conclusion, while Stone in the Sky may still not be able to fully satisfy the wants of readers who often read sci-fi and long for high levels of aliens, it is already better than Tin Star in terms of plot. The plot is very satisfying and the world-building is also very strong and thus together, they make a pretty nice book.