Title: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Series: Wayfarers #1
Author: Becky Chambers
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Paperback
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Voyager; August 18, 2015
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Synopsis from Goodreads...
A rollicking space adventure with a lot of heart...
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The patched-up ship has seen better days, but it offers her everything she could possibly want: a spot to call home, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and some distance from her past. And nothing could be further from what she's known than the crew of the Wayfarer. From Sissix, the reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the chatty engineers who keep the ship running, to the noble captain Ashby, life aboard is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. That is until the crew is offered the job of a lifetime tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet. Sure, they'll earn enough money to live comfortably for years, but risking her life wasn't part of the job description. The journey through the galaxy is full of excitement, adventure, and mishaps for the Wayfarer team. And along the way, Rosemary comes to realize that a crew is a family, and that family isn't necessarily the worst thing in the universe… as long as you actually like them...
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is one of those books I’ve been hearing about seemingly for forever—even though, in reality, it was only a few years, but you get the point. So, I’ve heard about it, seen a lot of praise for it, and now I’ve finally read it for myself. I adored this book. And it’s a little hard to accurately describe because it’s not the usual kind of science fiction/ space opera that I'm a huge fan of, but it also kind of is in a way. That’s not a very good way to say it, so let me at least try to explain what I mean...
If you pay close attention to the synopsis, it does an accurate job of describing how the book actually reads. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is very day-to-day and closely follows the life of the crew of the Wayfarer, a patchwork but stable ship. There was something about it that reminded me of how literary fiction feels when I read it, and might have something to do with how it was written or how character-driven the book was. There was a lot of travel, daily activity, and exploration of the characters (including backstory, current events, and relationships) that, at times, took over the story. The setup worked because the characters were awesome. Everyone from Rosemary to the rest of the crew was interesting in their respective ways. That’s one thing I have to note. Chambers’s did a spectacular job of creating truly alien races that didn’t mirror one another. There were distinguishable cultures and languages that went hand in hand with their unique appearances and differing societal norms. I thought it was creative and interesting to read about.
That brings me to my second point: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is definitely science fiction. It was a long (and dangerous) way to a small and angry planet. On one hand, this book featured many planets and cultures, giving an expansive feel to the setting. But it was also limited in the sense that the primary setting was the Wayfarer, which had obvious space constraints (it was a ship). Still, there was never a moment when the story seemed narrow. There was a sense of life to the characters and how they interacted and reacted to the things and places around them. There was always something that reminded me that, yeah, there was a broader world outside the Wayfarer. It was one of the things that made the book an engrossing read.
There was, of course, the technology. In particular, I thought it was cool to have ships that specialized in creating wormholes.
So, all that being said, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. It was something a little different but a thoroughly interesting story. I have high hopes for the second book.