Teenager Tula Bane, beaten and left for dead aboard a space station in a remote part of galaxy, is now living in the station underguts, bartering to survive. Heckleck and Tournour, members of two different insect-like species, have both been kind to Tula, but she’s still incredibly lonely as the only human on board. Then the Imperium takes control of the station and Tula hears rumors that it’s putting political pressure on isolationist Earth to join it. It’s an effort apparently orchestrated by Brother Blue, the man who tried to kill her. The arrival of three more human teens on the station who may or may not be loyal to the Imperium gives Tula the opportunity she’s been looking for to plan revenge against Brother Blue, if she can get them to reveal information she needs. At the same time, they ease her loneliness as she delights in human contact and conversation, and even begins to fall in love. Cecil Castellucci’s satisfying work of science fiction has a complex political backstory, but it’s the wonderful characterizations and relationships that shine. Castellucci is adept at imagining how a wide variety of species whose cultural norms and habits differ relate to one another on a personal level, including how lack of cultural knowledge leads to misunderstanding. Tula’s survival has been dependent upon her ability to understand and communicate in a variety of ways. But as successful as she’s been, she’s failed to realize the most important thing: she has never been as alone as she thought. A novel that feels complete on its own leaves the door wide open for a sequel. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:
- How are insider/outsider lines defined in this book and in what cases are they blurred?
- Where do Tula’s loyalties lie? How do her loyalties change throughout her experience on the space station? Cite examples from the text.
- Make a text-to-world connection relating the political figures and issues in Tin Star to historical or contemporary events.