I bought this book an AGE ago and just got around to it now. I don’t know what I was expecting, really. This genre is uncharted territory for me – but I think this book changed any ideas I had about the sci fi genre on it’s head. I’m still quite unsure how I feel about this book so apologies if this is a rambly mess!
Spoiler Free Review
Title: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Authors: Becky Chambers
Published: Hodder and Stoughton, 2015
Some links: Goodreads and Amazon
Rosemary joins the crew of the Wayfarer ship – a patched up vessel that has seen better days – and she isn’t sure what to expect. What she finds, however, is a quirky and loveable crew and an escape from the past she isn’t quite ready to face yet. When the crew are offered a new, exciting job, they jump at the chance. But it’s not going to be as quite smooth sailing as they hope.
This is – as far as I can remember – my first proper Sci Fi book. I’ve not purposefully avoided the genre. I’ve just never found something that intrigued me. But I remember being drawn to the cover of this book in a bookshop a while ago, reading the blurb and thinking ‘If I’m going to be able to connect to any sci fi novel, it’ll be this one. This is the enter-into-genre book for me’. I was right. This was a good book to slowly get me into the worlds that sci fi novels create. But it still wasn’t quite what I was expecting.
Let’s talk world: I was a little bit dumfounded at first, if I’m honest. I wasn’t used to this type of world, filled with planet speak and different species. Although I’ve read books with lots of different fantasy characters, this felt very different. It took me a while to get into the story because of this, but once my mind had sorted all of the new information, I was able to get further into the story. It did take a good 150 pages for the story to really take a leap, though. Because I am a sci fi novice, I’m not sure if that’s always the case. I can understand completely that a lot of world building needs to take place. There’s so much to learn if you are truly going to ‘get’ the story – but it did felt like a hurdle to get over before the real story began.
The plot was… okay. I think I imagined sci fi books to be full of action and adventure, so I was surprised by the slow and steady pace this book took on, and how the story was not one action-packed sequence after another. In fact, I found that when there was an action type event, it was over pretty quickly. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy this about the novel, it just wasn’t what I was expecting at all. At the end of the book I felt like this whole novel had been a build up for whatever was going to happen in the rest of the series, and I kind of wished there had been more events to make this stand alone in its own right.
The main winning part of this novel are the characters. The crew of the Wayfarer are what make this book. They are fun, quirky, very diverse and incredibly real. I felt like I knew all of the characters inside out by the time the book was finished. I felt with them, I had sympathy for them, I understood their backgrounds. I said at the beginning of the year that I wanted to read more diversely. I didn’t realise that this book would be just as much on board with this topic, as many others that I intend to read.
I hadn’t really realised how much this book had affected me until near the end. This book was so quiet until, right in the last 100 pages, I realised how loudly it had been shouting about topics so relevant for today’s society. It really does have something to say. When I realised this, I went back and upgraded my review. Before I’d felt it was just okay, but after realising how thought-provoking it was – it’s ideas on race and equality and what it means to feel – I knew I had enjoyed this read much more than I thought I had.
My Rating: 3.5 stars!
I think this book has lots of really important messages, and a beautiful range of exciting characters, and those are the things I enjoyed about this book. The plot, however, left me wanting. I hope it gets a bit more exciting in the next books, because I really would like to continue this journey with the crew of the Wayfarer.
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Have you got any sci fi recommendations for me? I’d love to branch out more into this genre!