TIN STAR DUOLOGY
I usually only wait to review series as a whole for high profile titles, but this also happens with series where I have read the first book(s) before I started blogging; as is the case with these two stories. This duology is special to me because TIN STAR was the first ARC I ever received (Goodreads giveaway), and STONE IN THE SKY was one of a small handful of physical ARCs that were made available.
The story started out with a bang and I was ready for some fast action SciFi, but then it quickly sputtered out. I am not going to say what came next was boring, because looking back I don't think it was, but in comparison to the opening scene it was way too draggy, and the transition was abrupt. Once the main character Tula Bane (don't you love that name) started exploring the space station and meeting others, the story became full and vibrant. Then boom... there was this section of basically meaninglessness wandering. I know it was supposed to be developing a connection between Tula and some secondary characters, but it was disconnected from the main storyline and too lengthy. So how did this story redeem itself into being a four star review? It was because of the stellar alien portrayals and the basically flawless backhalf of the story.
Oh, let me tell you about Miss Cecil's aliens. They are unique with colorful personalities and rich cultures. The space station Yertina Feray (I love this name, too) is a microcosm. The social and political goings on mirror what is going on in our own world. There were many real world issues dealt with like: sexism, racism, poverty, and what underlying social catalysts there are for criminal activity; just to name a few. But don't worry, the sociopolitical statements are well buried within the narrative, so the story is not preachy and remains entertaining throughout.
PERSONAL PLUS POINTS
Tula is an intelligent, strong, and resourceful heroine. There is very little romance and what there is I found unusual and refreshing.
Unlike Tin Star, the story consistently moves forward at a good pace and I did not consider any of it wandering. We find out what Tula's current status is on the space station, which may be surprising to some, and what happened to her nemesis. Romance figures into the story a bit more in this sequel, but in some ways I hate to label it "romance" because it is more like relationship building. The political elements of the plot take a front seat in this second book, which in turn ushers in some nail-biting intrigue. I was happy with the ending when I thought this was a trilogy, but I was not so delighted with it when I found out it was a duology. However, now that it has been a while since I finished the book, I am more content with it.
What makes certain alien races in the story tick is definitely a big part of Stone In the Sky. The different planets are stuggling to think galactically, just like we are struggling to think globally here on Earth. Again, any sociopolitical ideas are well woven into the storyline, so any enlightenmemt the book carries isn't pushed in your face.
PERSONAL PLUS POINTS
Tula's growth in this sequel is inspiring. I also loved how all of the many plot threads were maintained and tied up at the end. I admire how Miss Cecil mirrored our current struggles as human beings in her alien races.
If you like Star Trek Deep Space Nine, or reading Star Wars series books, I am confident in saying I know you will love this duo!
There is a free prequel short story to this duology, The Sound Of Useless Wings, on Tor.com: HERE.