This book had been sitting on my “to-read” list for a while now, and I don’t even remember why I put it on there in first place. When it came time to choose my next audiobook, I just went down the line on my list and decided to give Becky Chamber’s The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet a try. Do you know what the best feeling in the world is? Going into a book with virtually no expectations and coming out LOVING IT.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Plane by Becky Chambers
Series: Wayfarers #1
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on July 29th 2014
Genres: Science Fiction
Narrator: Rachel Dulude
Length: 14 hours, 23 minutes
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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. 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.
Okay so you can read the official synopsis above, but here’s how I’d summarize it: Friends meets Star Trek. This book gives you everything you loved about Star Trek: the weird creatures, the alien species cultural novelties, fun technology, odd food, exciting planets, etc, but leaves out all of the explosions, space battles, laser beams, and looming enemies. It’s literally a story about a group of folks on a spaceship just doing their job and trying to get along as best they can while doing it.
Here’s what I just absolutely positively loved about it:
- IT FEELS SO REAL. You’re reading this book and about all these different species and their fascinating cultural tendencies and it just feels like yes, of course this is actually happening and these people are actually up there doing these things. To think otherwise just makes me sad. The amount of detail Chambers put into this book is perfection.
- Somehow Becky Chambers weaves a message of tolerance through her book and it doesn’t feel preachy AT ALL. You start reading this book and there are certain things that these alien species are doing, and as a human (I have to specify, because, well, you never know who else might be reading this), you’re giving the book shifty eyes. You’re thinking well this is a little uncomfortable. But by the end of the book you’re totally accepting! Like, MAYBE THOSE ALIENS AREN’T WEIRD, MAYBE THEY’RE JUST DIFFERENT AND THAT’S OKAY. My husband and I were discussing [boring human] cultural differences and I found myself using the perspective I’ve gained from a science-fiction novel to shape my opinion. Because I’m tolerant of all things now, thanks to Chambers.
- THE CHARACTERS ARE AMAZING. amazing. AMAZING. amazing. Chambers has mastered characterization (which is probably also why this book feels so real), and you will fall in love with every character aboard that ship. You’ve got humans, several different alien species, and Lovelace (the ship’s artificial intelligence who is as much of a character as everyone else). And that’s not to mention all of the fantastic characters you meet when the ship is “planet-side.”
This book was just perfect for me. I loved every second of it. Not everyone will. If you want sci-fi action, this is NOT your type of book. There is very little in the way of action in this book. It’s the characters’ relationships and day-to-day activities that makes this book interesting. If you like Star Trek or Star Wars because you like the different planets, trinkets, alien species, and all the other fun little details, then you will love this book.
I LOVED IT. If you’re interested at all, I found the first chapter for you to read online here.
In other exciting news there will be a sequel! It will be a stand-alone and focus on some of the peripheral characters of this book. I’m super excited, but at the same time sad about the fact that it won’t be about the characters I’ve come to know and love.
Does this book sound like your type of book? Are you a details person or do you want more epic space happenings? Have you read this book? Did you love it as much as I did?