Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci (ARC)

Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Release Date: February 25th, 2014

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.
NOTE: I was able to read this through NetGalley. This is did not influence my review in any way.

Oh, this book. I wanted to like it so badly. The concept seemed interesting, and the cover looked pretty cool. But that was so far from what I had expected. I'm telling you now that you shouldn't set your expectations as high as I set mine. And I'm not saying you would definitely not enjoy this book, but I for one just could not enjoy this book very much.

One of the problems I had with it right off the bat was that I wasn't a huge fan of Tula Bane. I can't put my finger on what exactly was the problem. I didn't connect with her, and I couldn't feel anything for her. I didn't cheer her on, I didn't want her to get back with her family, and I didn't even feel enough to hate her. She just felt so flat and empty and bland. Tula Bane wasn't nearly as bad as Katniss, but she was pretty close.

The other characters weren't much better either. The humans all had their own agenda, which was obvious since the beginning. I knew there was a romance or two brewing, but I didn't feel any spark or connection. Maybe everyone was just desperate. Whatever it was, it was predictable, not needed, and it felt forced. Heckleck wasn't any better. If I even started to like him and feel something for him, that went out the window pretty quickly at the beginning.

Tin Star was also so predictable. I knew about the "twist" with Tournour since almost the beginning. I figured out Brother Blue's plot early on. I figured out Els was planning really quickly. It was all just so obvious. So laid out. So flat.

Another (smaller) aspect that bothered me was how Tula adapted to her new environment. I get that she had Heckleck's help. I know she had the smarts to get through. But to almost forget what humans look like or to forget how she was taught to act around her own kind was really strange. I mean, I can't judge. Maybe we'd all be the same way, but I just don't see that happening. And the way that the other aliens (by the way, why would they all be grouped as "aliens" if it's clear that they're all unique species and that they're all known?) treated her in comparison to the way they treated Els, Reza, and Caleb was strange. I get that they're used to Tula and can gain from her, but it just seemed off.

My last bit of criticism is the writing. I couldn't picture the setting almost at all. I had a basic idea of it, but a lot of it was filled in by the image(s) of other space centers/space crafts (a la Star Wars, Doctor Who, etc). For such a promising premise and environment, I was expecting more. There wasn't a lot of great sentence variety, and there was a lot of telling. Normally, I don't mind a bit of telling because that's how I naturally write as well, but this was just really layered on. There were so many times where I could infer things without needing to be told. Castellucci wrote well enough that she could have done more with her showing and less with her telling.

So despite all of this, how did I get through the book and still give it more than a one? Because there were some suspense and action for me. Albeit being predictable, there were some scenes that made me keep turning the page. They were sparse, but they were there. They made me keep trudging through, and it were those scenes that Castellucci's writing shined. But it wasn't enough for me to want to reread this or even to recommend it except to very specific people.

You can find Cecil Castellucci on: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Her blog
You can find Tin Star on: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository

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