Review: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Series: Wayfarers #1
Also by this author: A Closed and Common Orbit
Published by Harper Voyager on August 18th, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Also in this series: A Closed and Common Orbit
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that's seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.
But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptillian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful - exactly what Rosemary wants.
Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They'll earn enough money to live comfortably for years... if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful.
But Rosemary isn't the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet commanded my complete attention from the very beginning, and was a book that I longed to continue reading any time real life got diverted me from its pages.
Rosemary Harper is the newest crew mate for The Wayfarer. Her past is a bit mysterious, but you quickly learn she is bright and a hard worker. You can’t help but wonder about her motivation for joining a long haul mission when she’s never served as crew on a ship before, even short haul. But when you meet the crew of The Wayfarer, that quickly gets brushed to the side, because really, who wouldn’t want to work with the set of people?
The Wayfarer is a patchwork ship (literally as mish mash pieces all slapped together inside and out) consisting of a diverse crew that is really just incredibly fun. In the beginning, the crew dynamics couldn’t help but remind me of Retribution Falls, however as I continued to read, I quickly realized that this was (no disrespect to RF which I loved) a more sophisticated/worldly book than that. This book is very character driven, but through those characters and their relationships and interactions, the book highlights many of the societal issues between races and planets, it shows prejudices and how differences are often used as an excuse to dismiss others rather than looking at similarities to see what they may have in common, finding a common ground to relate on.
And what is wonderful about this book, is while the world is expansive, the races are numerous, the writing made this incredibly readable. I never felt like there was an info dump, I never felt overwhelmed with information and I never had any issues keeping things straight. It was straightforward, intriguing and just plain easy and fun to read. Sitting back though, I realize there was a good deal of information provided to the reader, it was just done in such a way that it was all interesting bits of the story that tied in well, it always seemed incredibly relevant and just part of the story.
Also, humans are not the epitome of species in the universe, we are not powerful or influential, and through this standing, we actually get some perceptive looks into the weaknesses of humans. Some of which are quite real, some of which could be seen as positive traits, but traits that can hamper us in the eyes of the universe.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and world. While it is very character driven (with characters you can’t help but love and get attached to), I also appreciate its examination of diversity, acceptance and expectations, the issues with passing judgements on others. It is an incredibly fun book, but it is in no way shallow, it is insightful and has a wonderful commentary on cultural differences and acceptance of others. Highly recommend.