The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers

Genre: Sci-Fi
Synopsis: Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there. But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.


Review: The short version is, I loved this book. It wasn't without its flaws, but I absolutely loved it. I spotted it randomly while browsing Goodreads, looking for new reading suggestions, and the name drew me in. Sci-fi is definitely not my usual kettle of fish, so I was taking a chance by reading it, but my interest was further piqued by the fact that this book is the result of a Kickstarter - started by Becky in order to fund the time she needed to finish the novel. This to me suggested the novel was a real labor of love, and having read it, I can confirm that it absolutely is.

Although it's sci-fi, it's character- and story-driven sci-fi. I say story-driven rather than plot-driven - it is the stories of the characters, their backgrounds, their experiences, their goals that really make up the heart of this novel. It's quite a long read, and over the course of the book you get to know each of the characters in their context of their personal experiences and in the context of the episodic bigger picture on board the Wayfarer, much in the way you get to know a cast of characters throughout a mini-series on television. This is both the book's greatest strength and weakness - I loved the characters, I adored the Wayfarer, Lovey, all the different species and the depth of development that went into absolutely every angle of this novel. As I said, an utter labor of love. At the same time, the pacing and the potential focus points of the novel became a little overlooked, I think, in the author's desire to share everything there is to know about her universe. I'd nearly argue it would have been better as a trilogy - more time to focus more on maybe three big areas, rather than shoving everything into one book.

I don't really want to talk too much about the content of the story, other than to say that despite the sic-fi genre it's very much a book about people, their cultures, and their attempts to etch out places for themselves in the vastly complex and wildly confusing grand scheme of life. If that sounds like the kind of thing that appeals to you, then this is worth picking up.

Rating: 4/5

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