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Book Review: The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

It’s a Christmas miracle!! Not only have I actually finished a book, but I’ve written a review as well?! You lucky people, you 😉

The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet (or LWTASAP as it shall now be known, seriously what’s with all these crazy long titles people?) is what I call a ‘full-on sci-fi extravaganza’. Not just a little sci-fi, with space travel or future tech, its full-on sci-fi, space travel, future tech AND aliens. And it’s bloody good.

longwayWhen 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,adventures in far off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past. But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptilian 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 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.”

Since they cancelled Firefly, all those years ago, nothing has really come close enough to compare. I’m not much of a Star Trek fan, Chris Pine films aside, so space travel is not a subject I venture into much. UNTIL NOW! AHA! LWTASAP has a very Firefly-esq feel to it, but not in a bad way. It’s cobbled together ships, backwater planets, galactic alliances, quirky crews and general spacey goodness.

The Wayfarer is a construction ship, except instead of roads, they build hyperspace express ways (I cannot say that without a Vogon accent), the crew are hired to build the first route between the center of the Galaxy and a planet which is newly formed and who’s occupants are in talks to join the Galactic Alliance. As the title would suggest, the book mostly focuses on the journey. Or more accurately, the people on the journey. This is very much a character book, all the members of the crew are real, fleshed out characters, and each has an individual story to tell. It’s a true ensemble piece, instead of rooting for one person above the others I found myself willing them all to succeed at everything.

I felt that the moral heart of the book is acceptance. Everyone in the galaxy is different, there are lizard people and blob people and sentient AI and beautiful scaly people and boring human people and every one of them is valued, is important to the plot, IS a person. There is a very strong global acceptance theme throughout and it was really lovely to read something like that. Even in space, we should all stand hand in hand against the evils. It’s really quite profound.

It’s brilliantly written and will keep you engaged right to the end, the settings are amazingly visualized and the people are like old friends. Definitely worth the read whether you’re already a sci-fi fan or not! Four stars =]

4/5 ****
PS. Can we just talk about the American cover for a second:

longwaytoasmallangryplanet1It’s so ugly! I know books have different publishers on either side of the pond, but it’s always amazed me that they can have such different covers. I would never have picked this book up, it’s far too 90’s.

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