I just finished Tin Star last night, and I am feeling very conflicted about the entire reading experience. There were parts of this book that I absolutely loved, and I want to rave about them, and I will. But as far as the characters were concerned, and the relationships/connections they shared, ehhhh.
So I am going to talk about that first. I feel like I repeat this in nearly every book review, but characters can make or break a novel for me. It wasn't that I disliked the characters in this book. I actually did like them...what I KNEW of them. There wasn't a whole lot of character development in Tin Star, particularly with the supporting cast. I did like Tula though, and I am looking forward to getting to know her more in part two of this duology. I think part of the problem was that the other humans in the story didn't come into the book until about partway through, and when the book concluded and important plot points happened that I should have had an emotional reaction to, I was just unenthused. It was at this moment that I realized I had some problems with this book. Up until that point, I had pretty much loved it. I still do have lots of good things to say, but I do hope there is more character development coming in book two because it's a bit frustrating to like a book so much but miss that emotional connection.
One place where this book excelled was in the world-building. If that is something that's important to you, I think you will love Tin Star. The book takes place on a large space station in deep space. There are many different species of aliens, they all communicate differently, and Tula is a trader who runs around getting all the different aliens things they need. There is a bar, shops, different classes (Tula lives in the slums), a Sunspa, etc.
My favorite side character was a Loor named Heckleck. Tula is the only human on the ship when she meets him, and he is pretty much the reason she is able to bounce back after her tragedy. Heckleck is basically a giant insect based on his description It's not very often that you see a straight science fiction novel in the YA genre. Most of the ones I see are what I would call sci-fi lite. But not this book. I really enjoyed all the different intricacies to the world-building and how the inter-species government worked, how travel worked, and all the conflict there was between species. It was just thought out really well and it was my favorite part of reading Tin Star. I am very much looking forward to the sequel because I love learning about different worlds, even if they are fictional. I feel like I am walking away from this book a more enriched reader.
The other thing that I really liked was the writing. It's true that it's simple, but it flows well, and I never felt like there wasn't enough of an explanation for the things I needed to know. I loved Tula's head space, and I loved learning about the space station through her eyes.
So I end up feeling conflicted at the end of this review, hence the 3 star review. I do intend to read the sequel as I am really invested in the world and where the characters go from here. I want to know what Tula is going to do to get her revenge on Brother Blue. I want to know what happens to the other characters and the government. I feel like this book could have been more eventful but I really enjoyed my reading experience all the same. So yeah, I do recommend it. And it's also a short book so it's not going to take too much of a time investment. This can be a one-day read if you want it do be. Or maybe you want to wait until you have the second book in your hands and read them all together, and that works too. In fact, I'm not really sure why it just wasn't one book to begin with. I mean it seems like it's going to be under 500 pages, so why not? Regardless, I liked it. And that's what's important.