Book Review: Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci

Tacye Hong April 28, 2015 0
  • World Development
  • Writing Style

Tin StarSci-fi books have not been my favourite genre out of all the available genres in the YA world and in fact, I often shy away from sci-fi books due to my unexplainable fear of and dislike for aliens. There is something about aliens that make me immediately think of slimy slugs with bulging, penetrating eyes and it certainly does not appeal to me at all. Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci deals with aliens but the way it presents the aliens makes it easier to overcome this irrational fear.

Tin Star follows human Tula as she struggles to start her own life on a remote space station after being casted out of a colony ship by leader Brother Blue and being abandoned by her family members. As she slowly finds her bearings in the space station with the help of alien Heckleck, Tula begins to use her bargaining skills to her advantage and establishes trades with aliens and humans alike to survive.

The writing style of Castellucci sadly does not resonate with me well and it thus takes me one-third of the book to truly go with the flow. Instead of “showing” the readers what Tula feels or sees in the space station, the book often “tells” readers what is happening. Moreover, the sentences are very short and packed with first-person pronouns. As a result, it makes the descriptions very plain and makes it hard to connect with Tula. This also makes the whole story lacks emotion and thus not a book that will give readers an emotional roller-coaster.

The aliens here in Tin Star possess many human qualities and characteristics and so they are not very unlike humans. As a result, I myself find them very easy to read about. I am certain that this is a nice book to introduce YA readers who do not often read sci-fi books to this genre. However, this may be a slight disappoint for those who already read a lot of sci-fi novels and are reading Tin Star in hopes for reading more about aliens.

What really fascinates me and certainly will be interesting to others is the theme of bargaining and owing favours. There are many mentions of Tula trading with others for her own survival needs, and her bargaining for others in exchange for favours. It is very exciting to read about and is definitely what makes the plot more gripping. It takes people back to the time when barter trades were used and at the same time incorporates a certain degree of cunningness that only exists in the present day society.

Overall, Cecil Castellucci’s Tin Star acts as a nice introduction to the YA sci-fi world. It may not be the best sci-fi out there but the balance between the mentions of aliens and keeping things to the human level makes it a decent book for readers who have not read a lot of books with aliens. There are also certain details to her world that will definitely appeal to many readers.

Disclaimer: Finished copy provided by Raincoast Books in exchange for honest review. All opinions are my own.

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