Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci (Roaring Brook Press, Feb. 25th, 2013)-14 year old Tula is headed to a distant planet, Beta Granada with her family to start a colony. When their ship, the Prairie Rose, stops at a space station with engine trouble, the colony’s leader, Brother Blue, beats her badly for questioning his handling of supplies. He subsequently abandons at the station and she’s left in the hands of its non-human inhabitants. The aliens patch her up, but they’re not too sure what to do with Tula. Tula is understandably scared and confused. After all, Brother Blue had repeatedly told her that she was to be instrumental in his dreams of colonization, that she would eventually be a leader in the Children of the Earth. When she meets Tournour, who heads up security at the station, he informs her that the Children of the Earth claim to not know who Tula is, and that everyone has been accounted for on the Prairie Rose. Tula must now fend for herself on the Yertina Feray, and hope that she can eventually get in contact with someone that can help. A scavenger, Heckleck, eventually befriends Tula and she soon becomes known as the girl that can get just about anything. It’s not a bad life, and her reputation is good, which goes a long way on Yertina Feray. But, in spite of this, being the only Human on the space station is lonely, and when three Humans arrive; the beautiful Els, gentle Caleb, and the electrifying Reza, Tula’s world is turned upside down, and she learns something about Brother Blue that will change her course permanently.
Tin Star covers about 3 years from the time Tula arrives on Yertina Feray and she goes from a scared 14 year old, to a very confident and self-sufficient 17 year old during that time. The arrival of Els, Caleb, and Reza is a game changer for Tula, and she’s undeniably attracted to Reza. Nothing has quite been what it seems, especially where Brother Blue is concerned, and by the time the book concludes, Tula has quite a mission ahead of her. The author writes in staccato, rather spare prose, but I thought that mirrored the desolation of the space station nicely. The first half or so focuses mainly on daily life on the station, and her friendship with Heckleck is endearing, but in the second half, the author threw in a few twists that really change the course of Tula’s life. Tula is a strong, smart, resilient girl, and adapts remarkably to a place filled with life forms that aren’t all that fond of Humans to begin with. I enjoyed Tin Star, and although I felt as if it was, for the most part, a set up for the next novel, that’s ok, because the author made me fall in love with Tula (she especially comes into her own in the 2nd half), and as a result, I’ll follow her anywhere.