The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers is the first book in the Wayfarer series and is a spectacular space opera that will open your mind and heart through its touching and poignant characters.
The Wayfarer is a spaceship that constructs wormhole tunnels for interstellar travel. Being a smaller, less equipped ship, it is not an overly lucrative occupation for its rag tag crew, but it does allow for a very comfortable life. However, when the political landscape changes and new allies are gained, an opportunity with an enormous payout arises for the crew. Fortunately, the ship has just hired a new clerk tipping the decision for the contract in their favour. And so, the crew embarks on the lengthy journey to Hedra Ka to begin construction of the new wormhole. However, the region has been war torn for ages and the mission may not be as safe as they are led to believe.
Escaping from her past, Rosemary has risked it all to join the crew of the Wayfarer. Hoping to make a life for herself she leaves everything and everyone she has ever known behind. During the long journey to Hedra Ka, she learns to love and to trust with the band of misfits comprising the crew. They band together to overcome the varied trials of long haul travel but will they form bonds strong enough to prepare them for what awaits when they reach their destination?
This book is all about the characters, but delving into the many wonders of each one would make for a very long review. So, I will briefly introduce them with the sincere hope that you will grab this book and experience their awesomeness for yourself. The crew of the Wayfarer is a motley lot consisting of several different genders and species all squished together into a small spaceship.
Every crew member is memorable. Ashby is the captain, a true leader who cares deeply about his crew. Sissix is an Aandrisk, resembling something between a reptile and a bird, and is the ship’s pilot. Then there is Ohan, a Sianat Pair, who is the navigator and able to grasp aspects of the universe no one else can understand. Corbin, the algaeist, is gruff and solitary (for good reasons) but deep down a decent and caring man. Lovelace is the ship’s AI and love interest of Jenks. Jenks and Kizzy (my absolute favourite character) are the ship techs and wonderfully quirky. Dr. Chef, a Grum, is the sage doctor and cook for the crew (he makes a mean grilled Red Coast Bug). And finally, Rosemary, the kick-ass clerk with a sordid past. Each member has their own idiosyncrasies but by accepting their differences, they become more than just an effective team, they become a family.
The Writing Style
This is not a fast-paced book. The plot meanders along at a steady pace but the character-centric nature of the story means there is not an overabundance of action. Nonetheless, I could not put this book down. I became so invested in the characters that closing the book felt like ushering my loved ones out of the house and closing the door.
The story is written in the third person and alternates between the different perspectives of the main characters. This technique allows for a sense of ‘realness’ in a work of such obvious fiction. It also reinforces the themes of the novel such as diversity, compassion and acceptance by allowing the reader to see and feel things from multiple perspectives.
And then there’s the world building. Chambers has created a magnificent world teeming with so many different species, cultures and planets it is simply awe inspiring. Each species is incredibly fleshed out with intricate cultures, histories and characteristics. But the best part is that this variety is not just for the sake of complexity. Each species has a purpose in relation to the overall message of the book and the exploration of its different themes. The variety adds to the understanding of the story rather than jumbling it.
Again, I could go on forever about what I liked most about this book. The characters, the world building, the philosophical musings; they are all sensational! Or maybe it’s because I work in logistics that I am head over heels for an intergalactic story about commercial route-building. But to sum up my favourite aspect, I would say it is the way Chambers lauds positivity, respect for one another, uniting for a common purpose and how she instills hope for humanity throughout the narrative. This book makes me want to be a better person and shows me that I can.
There is not a large portion of the story devoted to f/f relationships, so if that is a necessary aspect for you in your reading, then this book won’t be for you. However, there is a boatload of amazing female characters and an f/f relationship that takes place and the overall diversity of relationships and sexuality depicted is more than sufficient to make this one of my favourite books.
Treat yourself to a vast universe where diversity and positivity reign supreme. It is not an unrealistic Utopia, there are trials, wars and death in this universe, but overall this is such a heartwarming tale filled with hope and love that it will make your soul dance and your heart sing.
Excerpt from The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
The truth is, Rosemary, that you are capable of anything. Good or bad. You always have been, and you always will be. Given the right push, you, too, could do horrible things. That darkness exists within all of us. You think every soldier who picked up a cutter gun was a bad person? No. She was just doing what the soldier next to her was doing, who was doing what the soldier next to her was doing, and so on and so on. And I bet most of them – not all, but most – who made it through the war spent a long time after trying to understand what they’d done. Wondering how they ever could have done it in the first place. Wondering when killing became so comfortable.”
Rosemary’s freckled cheeks had gone a little pale. He could see her throat move as she swallowed.
“All you can do, Rosemary – all any of us can do – is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play. And what I see in you is a woman who has a clear idea of what she wants be”
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The Wayfarer Series
The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet
A Closed and Common Orbit
Record of a Spaceborn Few
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9780062444134
- Publisher: Harper Voyager
Becky Chambers Online
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