Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarer’s #1) – Becky Chambers

After running away from her previous life, Rosemary Harper isn’t sure what she expected when she joined Captain Ashby’s crew. Being an interspecies crew, there’s a wide variety of people, ranging from Ohan, the Navigator, to Kizzy and Jenks, the excitable and friendly Engineers. When Ashby signs them up for a long haul, the crew must get ready for more chaos than usual on their ship.


Why this book?: I’ve heard wonderful things about this book, and I’m in a sci-fi mood.

Literally a ‘long-haul’

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is one of those books where you have to buckle down for a long read. Not because it’s long–it’s just under 450–but because there’s so much happening within the pages that it’s actually hard to keep track of. Not only are there a lot of characters you have to learn, but there’s also a lot of species and customs and cultures that need to be remembered. Building a world that complex is hard, and I applaud Chambers for it, even though I noticed that she dropped a few details later into the story.

Chambers’s writing is nothing special, but it was very engaging. I loved how she hid certain descriptions, or purposely switched point of views to increase suspense or intensity. However, sometimes it really didn’t work. I wish there had been more description for Ohan, Sissix, Dr. Chef, and Pei, because much more could have been filled in rather than what was different between them and humans.

Going into the novel, I was more or less expecting hardcore sci-fi. However, this book is more focused on the relationships between the crew members, rather than the actual plot. This made the extensive world-building a little unneeded, yet it gave a nice idea a unique setting that drew you in.

More than a ‘crew’

It developed friendships and romantic love, and even surprised me with a W/W couple. I didn’t know that this book had that kind of representation, and I also appreciated how it was “interspecies”. There were also a lot of allusions to the LGBT community, even though it’s not the same thing. Ohan goes by they/them pronouns, and Dr. Chef actually once says “I’m currently male” and talks about times when he went by she. Kizzy even mentions her dads a few times.

As I mentioned before, this book really focuses on the development of relationships. One of the minor crew members got some major development, which in turn causes development for the others. Everything regarding the characters was so intricate. The personalities, how they interacted with each other, and how in-depth their relationships truly went, even if they particularly didn’t like each other.

After really getting to know the characters, scenes meant and felt more intense. I could feel the dread when I recognized a classic foreshadow. I could feel the grief and the love and the joy and everything.

Final Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall?

The hype for this book did not disappoint, at least for me. It was an enjoyable read, that wasn’t only focused on the fact that it was in space. This book could have taken place anywhere, but the sci-fi addition just added to the charm. Yes, there’s a lot of world-building, but it just added to the feeling.

Would I Recommend?

If you’re a big science fiction lover, then yes. So much thought and details went into the world-building and development. However, it might be heavy for someone new to the genre.


Additional Information:

Published: July 15, 2014

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Page Count: 443

Genre: Science Fiction/Space Opera

Synopsis: via Goodreads

Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

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