Thursday, December 26, 2013

ARC Review: Tin Star by Cecil Castelucci

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
240 Pages

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. 

It's an absolute miracle that I managed to finish this novel. Because Jenn and I are incapable of letting things go, we saw Tin Star through until the end. I'm sure I can speak for both Jenn and myself when I say that this was not a good thing, but rather a major regret that resulted in frustration, disappointment and an (see: several) empty bag(s) of Milky Way Bites (though that last one might just have been me).

Tula has sworn revenge on Brother Blue, the man who almost killed her, and left her stranded on an alien space station before leading her mother and sister and the rest of their colony to their deaths. Thanks to the help of some aliens, Tula begins to thrive on the space station and continues plotting against Brother Blue. The addition of three unwelcome humans brings murder, betrayal and romance into her life and forces her to adjust to the changes so she can survive and kill Brother Blue.

There are exactly two things that I liked about this novel, which are characters that we hardly got to know: Heckleck and Tournour. Had they been given a larger presence in the story, I probably would've enjoyed it (well… it wouldn't have taken me a month to read the book, at least). Their personalities and interactions with the main character, Tula, were interesting, and they were the only parts of the story about which I had a real curiosity. They weren't fleshed out enough though. The rest of this story was just… dreadful.

Here's the thing… It's necessary to have a good idea about the background and setting of the story you are reading, especially when you are writing science-fiction and fantasy. And that's where Tin Star fails. The author puts us in a future where aliens have a large presence and then neglects to explain all that has changed the world from how we currently know it. I had absolutely no idea what was going on, why these things were happening or even the behavior of the characters. The main character's actions (all human characters' actions, for that matter) baffled me. The character interactions were infuriatingly unrealistic especially between Tula and the three other humans (Caleb, Reza and Els) that she comes across. I hate them. 

Jenn and I exchanged several shouty capitals texts over how awful the characters were. Tula is not a relatable character, and that's not just because she lives in space. The book is told through her eyes, and let me tell you that her perspective is quite dull and lacks any feeling. Can you read monotone? I really hated all of the humans in this story, and I could completely understand why the aliens loathed them as well. Caleb, Els and Reza were strange, and generally awful people. I didn't understand their motives, or ideals. I just wanted to smack them, more specially smack the heck out of Els. Throughout the story I had very little (if any) sympathy for the characters as they struggled against misfortune. They honestly deserved it.

The plot would've been fascinating had it been given the proper attention. It was very inconsistent in its pace, and like I've said before, truly lacked the detail to help the reader understand why these events were occurring. History of the world, descriptions of the planets and stations and more insight into the characters was needed, but never given. A month later and I still have absolutely no idea what happened in that 200+ pages. Tin Star was a jumbled mess with which I could not get onboard.

I expected this novel to be fantastic, but as Jenn and I read we found ourselves more and more annoyed by the poor quality of the story. I am sad to say that I will more than likely avoid this author's work in the future. Tin Star was scattered and messy. It needed more--more detail, more history, more emotion, more care. This could've been phenomenal, but it wasn't. It, in fact, was so bad that I just wanted to get it over with, but couldn't find it in me to pick it up to finish. It was a never-ending vortex of boredom from which I am so happy to have escaped.
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review.

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