About the Book

Title: Tin Star (Tin Star #1)
Published: 2014
Series: Tin Star
Swoonworthy Scale: 1

Cover Story: Sneaky Big Face
BFF Charm: Destiny’s Child
Talky Talk: Straight Up World Building
Bonus Factors: Aliens, Evil Cult Leader
Relationship Status: Let Me Introduce You to a Friend of Mine

Cover Story: Sneaky Big Face

Planets and stars and comets, oh my! Yup, this one is set in space. But lest you mistake it for a grown-up book, the subtle Big Face is there to remind you otherwise. This cover isn’t the most exciting—even for someone like me, who gets V. V. EXCITED about space—but there’s no shame in being seen with it, either.

The Deal:

(Proceed with caution if you’re checking out the official blurb, which reveals more deets than I will.)

En route to a faraway planet, Tula Bane’s colony ship makes a stop at a remote space station called the Yertina Feray. When young Tula questions the decisions of Brother Blue, the colony’s leader, she’s brutally beaten and abandoned on the space station. As the only human among the aliens on the Yertina Feray, Tula has adapted to her surroundings over the years. But the only thing Tula craves more than companionship is revenge against Brother Blue, and she’s about to have a chance to have both….

BFF Charm: Destiny’s Child

BFF charm featuring the members of Destiny's Child

Y’all, Tula is one tough cookie. She’s not going to give up, despite being left for dead and ripped away from her family. She’s not going to stop until she gets revenge against Brother Blue. And she’s going to work harder to carve out an existence on the Yertina Feray as the only one of her species aboard. In the words of Kelly, Bey and Michelle, Tula is a SURVIVOR. Her life is way too intense for me to offer BFFdom, but she deserves major pants and hugs for everything she’s been through.

Swoonworthy Scale: 1

Since Tula’s story is mostly about survival and revenge, the swoon def. takes a bit of a backseat. Although there are a few inklings of potential romance, I spent a lot of time playing a one-sided game of love interest Guess Who (“Hmm, is it this character?”). But when Tula eventually gets her flirt on, it’s more of a physical connection* than an emotional one. And I really need a lot more of the latter for optimal swoontimes.

*Not a euphemism, gutter minds. (But obvs, me pointing that out means my mind went there first.)

Talky Talk: Straight Up Worldbuilding

Even though the Yertina Feray is only a space station in an isolated part of the galaxy, Cecil Castellucci’s words create the illusion that it’s a grand world all on its own. Because of that grandeur, I’d actually prefer to have seen this story instead of reading, esp. for the great visuals of the alien characters. And this is one of the few times I wouldn’t have minded having a glossary, since it took my terrible memory a while to get some of the names and lingo right.* Fortch, Castellucci complements these details with a straightforward writing style that’s easy to follow.

*Not really the book’s fault, since I’m that person who’ll have forgotten your name by the end of our first convo, and then I’ll feel too awkward to ask you for your name, and so I’ll try to sleuth it out some other way. I’m like a very low stakes, self-conscious Veronica Mars, i.e., not very Veronica Mars at all.

Bonus Factor: Aliens

A UFO hovering over people with lightning in the sky

Aliens are the overwhelming majority on the Yertina Feray, with each species having distinct traits and customs.

Bonus Factor: Evil Cult Leader

Brother Blue is the leader of the Children of Earth, a colonization movement that Tula’s mother is devoted to. If his probably self-given moniker (and, y’know, his whole beating up on a teenage girl) hadn’t already tipped you off, Brother Blue is up to no good.

Relationship Status: Let Me Introduce You to a Friend of Mine

Early on in my date with this book, I could already tell I wasn’t the right match for it. Worldbuilding’s always hit or miss with me, but I tried to keep an open mind and I ended up having a pretty good time. Still, there’s someone better suited for you out there, Book, and I’ll be happy to pass your number along when I find them.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Roaring Brook Press. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. Tin Star is available now.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.