Book review · novel

Book review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1), by Becky Chambers

the-long-way-1st-cover the-long-way-2nd-cover the-long-way-3rd-cover

Description: (from Hodder & Stoughton )

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.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. 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.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was originally self-published (1st cover) in 2014, then re-released by Hodder & Stoughton in 2015 (2nd cover) and will be available for US readers on August 18th 2016 from HarperVoyager (3rd cover)!

I love how the US cover chose to re-use the planet and the spaceship from the original one, they give a better space opera vibe, choosing to put the setting forward and appealing to sci-fi lovers.

img_9299While I’m not usually a big fan of covers that use a human figure or a silhouette, I loved how the UK one put a really small silhouette of Rosemary looking up at the stars, at the vastness of the universe and its beauty. It’s really a cover that catch the eye when sitting on a shelf at the bookshop and that can draw people in, even people that do not usually read sci-fi, and as this book is interesting for everyone I think it is a really great design choice.

This book made me smile and made me tear up. I find myself thinking about this book often, and it has become one of my favourite. More than that, it has become my comfy read (with Harry Potter, always), anytime I’m sick or not feeling well: this book gives me back hope, it’s always a pleasure to dive back into it!

The Long way to a Small, Angry Planet is slow paced and mostly character driven, it follows a group of people of different species into space. As the description of the publisher says, the book starts with and gravitates around Rosemary. But it’s way more than just her story: we find ourselves aboard a spaceship and in a huge universe with tons of species and planets, with not only different cultures, behaviours, languages and customs but also different ideals, sexual preferences and genders. It is an ode to diversity, tolerance and acceptance of the other. And that is what I liked best.

“That’s such an incredibly organic bias, the idea that your squishy physical existence is some sort of pinnacle that all programs aspire to.”

fullsizerender_6I loved the relationship between the crew members, how different they all are and how
they make efforts to be unprejudiced and to keep being fair and treat everyone equally. It’s so refreshing to see so much respect and an attitude that could be summed up as “hey the universe is way more fun to live in when everybody tries to respect everybody and be kind to one another”.

The story also shows us that sometimes it is hard to understand foreign cultures and customs or lifestyles, and the characters struggle to do the right thing.

“That’s not the same. What happened to you, to your species, it’s . . . it doesn’t even compare.’ ‘Why? Because it’s worse?’ She nodded. ‘But it still compares. If you have a fractured bone, and I’ve broken every bone in my body, does that make your fracture go away? Does it hurt you any less, knowing that I am in more pain?”

It is a journey through space, but there’s not a lot of space battles or hand to hand combat. It is mostly the universe and its wonders and its difficulties. It still is a space opera, but for once it’s not really war in space, but life in space. For me it really was a feel-good book that I totally recommend to anyone, one that I always mention when someone asks me about my favourite 2015 books!

A few months ago I asked Becky Chambers a question on Goodreads, as I was watching Star Trek and felt like both this book and this show shared some great values and she kindly answered. So if you already read this book and just reading this review out of curiosity, know that Star Trek is a great show to watch if you liked The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet!

20160125_orbit2-666x1024A companion book will be out in October, called A Closed and Common Orbit. Do not read the synopsis or it would spoil the ending of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet for you! I guess I don’t need to tell you that it is one of my most anticipated book for 2016!




Update: Finally received the US edition! Harper Voyager did a great job! Here are the two books finally together!




🌟 I want to thank @Atsurement for the encouragments to start posting and for proofreading this post!🌟


(originally posted: 25th February 2016)

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