- Tin Star by Cecil Castellucci
Tula Bane is glad to be part of a human colony bound for a new planet and even more excited to be singled out by their charismatic leader, Brother Blue. When she stumbles across his dangerous secret, though, Brother Blue attacks her and leaves her for dead on an isolated space station, the Yertina Feray, full of strange aliens. Desperate to survive, Tula finds work with Heckleck, an underground alien trader dealing in secrets and favors, and over the years she makes a life for herself, plotting her revenge against Brother Blue and connecting with other aliens aboard the Yertina Feray, including the surprisingly young ruling constable, Tournour. Now three [End Page 351] other humans have arrived on the station, and as Tula uses her connections to help them, she finds herself caught up in an unexpected romance with the handsome Reza Wilson and learns that these young people may hold the key to reaching her nemesis. This compact but complex and well-written novel offers a pleasing blend of coming-of-age story and space adventure. The engaging storyline takes the reader through various surprising twists and turns while remaining true to its emotional core. Though bitter at her situation, Tula is nonetheless a charming heroine, able over time to establish real ties with her alien neighbors. Those aliens, particularly Heckleck and Tournour, are wonderfully drawn, strange and lovable guides for the often lost Tula. A subplot involving the intergalactic Imperium and a secret alliance of rebels provides plenty of intrigue and sets the scene for possible sequels.