Trapped for years on a remote space station, a girl brews revenge.
Tula’s only 14 when her family’s spaceship, headed to a distant planet to set up a human colony, inexplicably docks at a space station called the Yertina Feray. Tula notices that the ship’s grain cargo has been unloaded and points this out to the ship’s leader, Brother Blue—who, in response, beats Tula brutally and leaves her for dead. He launches the colony ship without her and then departs in another ship. Stunned at learning that her charismatic leader is a sociopathic megalomaniac, and unable to contact any human colonies, Tula represses emotions to focus on survival—even when her family’s ship explodes. Constructing an identity as a trader, she barters favors and objects with the Yertina Feray’s all-nonhuman population. The desolate station residents yearn for real lives elsewhere, but bitter Tula wants only to kill Brother Blue. Interplanetary politics and revelations are complex but predictable (as are Brother Blue’s deceptions and murders). The arrival of three human teens adds romance, friendship and cold manipulation. Castellucci’s prose is sometimes awkward, and details are more sketched than explicit, but the last bit is surprisingly rich, as Tula suddenly expands her personal revenge fantasy.
The intriguing plot remains emotionally narrow until the ending, which promises a broader scope and interplanetary activism in the next installment. (Science fiction. 13 & up)