New video review in 2018:
Rescored back to a 4 =)
Original Review From 2015:
|*Rescored from a 4 to a 3. This book has not sat with me well since I finished it. I feel that this is a weak narrative that was covered up by social commentary that was over the top sentimental.|
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers was one of my most anticipated reads this year. Other people’s opinions that I value highly, praised this book as one of the best of the year. The praise was worth it as I enjoyed this book as well.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a science fiction book that focuses on the average people of a ship that creates wormholes for travel for other ships. The Wayfarer is a ship comprised of many different alien species that are extremely close friends. Some of the members of the ship even consider the Wayfarer members their family. A new clerk joins the ship, as she is running away from her past, and we get to learn about the ship and the crew as she does. When a job comes up to go to a potentially hostile system to create a new tunnel, the offer is just too good to pass up. This is the story of the adventure on the way to that tunneling job and what happens when they get there.
I really liked this book a lot. The first thing I noticed right away is how sanguine the writing style is, this is a book meant to be a comfort read. The prose had moments of epigrammatic wording that made me extremely impressed with Becky Chambers. My favorite line of the book was: “Tears rolled down her cheeks. They felt clean.” pg 204. It was just the perfect line at the right moment that holds so much meaning. Chambers’ descriptions of the ship, technology, and science were easy to follow because of her background as a technical writer.
The plot is very reminiscent of a short story collection that deals with the same characters. The chapters took a character at a time and put them in situations that further progressed their character but also gave Chambers an outlet for social commentary. I initially had an issue with this because it was so blatant, and I think this is where some readers will be divisive with this novel. However, the conversations and wisdom that these character show, really impacted me to look past a lot of this, and the amount of empathy showed during these scenes is just fantastic. The reason I mention that the book reminds me of a short story collection is because the overall running plot just wasn’t brought up enough while reading. There just wasn’t enough conversations or circumstances that dealt with the tunneling job that they are traveling to.
I loved the characters because they were so diverse. There is a lizard like alien, a sentient A.I., an alien chef/doctor that lives half his life male and the other female, an alien with a disease that is beneficial and creates two sentient beings in one, and humans with varying personalities. This is very much a character book. There are so many inter-specifies relationships that are looked down upon by other people in the universe but that the crew is a part of. That is not to say that this is a story all about couples because there are so many strong friendships between characters too. My favorite character was Sissix the Aandrisk. They are a lizard type race that shows affection strongly and that species trait was used to great effect in The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.
Becky Chambers is a writer that has made a fan. I will be following her work for the rest of her career. I highly recommend this novel for anyone that wants a comforting read with great characters and whimsical prose. If you can get past the obvious social commentary and the lack of a strong central plot, then you will enjoy this book.
*Rescored from a 4 to a 3. This book has not sat with me well since I finished it. I feel that this is a weak narrative that was covered up by social commentary that was over the top sentimental
3/5 15/25 Possible Score
Plot – 2(O.K.)
Characters – 3(Good)
World Building/Setting – 3(Good)
Writing Style – 4(Strong)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 3(Good)