Book Review: Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This is book two in the Tin Star series. It follows Tula Bane as she works to assert herself and her values against the evils in space. Her home in space, the Yertina Feray, has now become a hub for a new source of galactic currency – the alin. Thanks to all of the extra traffic, Tula attracts some unwanted attention and finds herself travelling the galaxy, reaching out to aliens she knows.

I really wanted to like this book – but it left me feeling so-so. In the first book (which I loved), Tula Bane is a kick-butt character who uses her wits and creative manipulation to become a (somewhat) respected citizen on the Yetina Feray. In this book she does a lot of sitting and letting other people do the work. I expressed my frustration to my writer friend, who said “Ahhh. She’s losing agency.” And that’s exactly why this book bothered me. Instead of taking control of her own fate, things just sort of happen to her and around her. Yes, the events may be exciting, but she’s not the one participating in them. There’s also a nice section of the book where she’s pretty desolate and hopeless. Which isn’t necessarily a problem by itself, but combined with the agency problem, makes the story weak.

Another dislike is that, as the reader, I had a hard time believing in the author’s assertations about Tula’s leadership skills. Of all the things that happened in the story, we didn’t get to see Tula’s leadership skills in action (much), we were just told she had them.

That being said, there were some good things with the story. I did enjoy following the romance(s). It’s the first time since Stephenie Meyer’s The Host that I’ve actually rooted for an inter-species relationship. I also loved the galaxy and and the aliens within. The aliens species were creative and I enjoyed how the author conveyed their different cultures and communication styles. We see a lot more of this in the first book, but I still though it was strong in this one as well. We also get a deeper look into different cultures (the wanderers and pirates) who are mentioned in the first book, but never really elaborated upon.

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