Hello humans! Today I am reviewing a book recommended by the lovely Justine at I Should Read That, Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to A Small Angry Planet. This was pretty much my first foray into space opera as a genre and it left me looking for even more! This is also another book I have managed to convince my Husband to get into (which is usually my barometer for ‘this isn’t just my personal taste’).
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.
This is a character-driven story, so the action falls into the background a little bit. There is an overarching plot but it is far more focused on developing these characters and the relationships between them. This is something I’ve encountered quite a bit in books and often it doesn’t quite work, it makes the pacing feel wrong or it just gets dull. In this case, however, it is pulled off perfectly. There is a sense of progression in the story without there being constant space battles or similar. The space left is totally filled with interactions between interesting characters, so it doesn’t feel boring.
The characters are what makes this story work. They are just the right mix of personalities, without feeling like stereotypes or box ticking. But what struck me was the amount of detail that went into the backgrounds, cultures and species of these individuals. The details aren’t lumped into huge info dumps, you learn them gradually as the other characters do, so the overall sense is of a complete and well thought out world. One of my largest problems with science fiction is I always seem to get bogged down in the science side of things, sometimes that can be very interesting and I like to see people twisting the laws of physics and things, but it was refreshing to read something more character focussed.
The LGBTQIA+ characters in this book were some of my favourite examples. They are clearly there, clearly represented, but that isn’t the extent of their characterisation. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this book is perfect in terms of representation but it’s pretty good!
I immediately went out to buy the next book in the series and I am very excited for the third, especially if they live up to the standard set by this one.
I don’t think there’s much more to be said really? This book lived up to and then exceeded my expectations.
My rating: 5/5 stars
All opinions are my own.
What say you? Have you read this? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!