A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Although set on a space station occupied by various aliens. Tin Star strives for realism. Faster-than-light travel is acknowledged and allowed for the sake of the plot. The alien species are distinct but within the realm of plausibility.
Tin Star emphasizes that honesty and empathy are important for survival, and that the urge for instant vengeance can be destructive.
Positive Role Models
At the start of Tin Star, 16-year-old Tula Bane dreams only of getting off the space station where she's stranded and then exacting vengeance on the Imperium official who's wronged her. She survives through her bravery and resourcefulness, but by the end of the book, she's able to see her predicament from a different, perhaps healthier, perspective.
Violence & Scariness
Scenes in Tin Star contain violence but aren't overly graphic. The novel opens with Tula Bane being beaten and left for dead, and as the story goes on, some of her friends and family are killed "off stage." Tula and another human face off in a duel, but the results aren't fatal. Tula is stabbed at one point, and two other characters are shot to death.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Tin Star doesn't have much sexual content. Tula's attracted to a human teen named Reza; their romance seems to involve mostly hugging and kissing. She also shares a passionate kiss with a female character, who's trying to manipulate her.
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Products & Purchases
There's no consumerism-related content in Tin Star.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
To escape the space station, two of Tula's friends take an alien poison whose effects mimic death.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Cecil Castellucci's Tin Star is an exciting, well-written coming-of-age science fiction novel set on a space station that's home to a wide mix of aliens. It features a compelling, complex female protagonist, as well as an intriguing supporting cast. There's some violence, including beatings and fatal shootings, but the scenes aren't graphic. There's no strong language, and drug use is confined to knockout poison used in an escape attempt. Minimal sexual content consists mostly of hugging and kissing (including a passionate embrace shared by two young women).
Is It Any Good?
TIN STAR is a solid, exciting science fiction story with an interesting cast of characters and an intriguing female protagonist, Tula Bane. Although there's plenty of action, the nuanced plot also pays attention to the politics of Tula's plight. Some readers might be reminded of the classic film Casablanca in the way author Cecil Castellucci spins out intrigue in a closed-off environment. Although the novel resolves satisfyingly, there's room for further exploration of this milieu and of Tula's quest for justice.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.