Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

4.5 stars. There's so, so much I want to say right now, and I want you all to know: this review can't do this book justice. There's no way to perfectly review one of the most complex, meditative books I've ever read. 

This is not a book for those who like action-packed scifi. Rather, it's for those who enjoy meditative stories. Chambers has written far more thoughtful scifi than most authors attempt. This is such a thoughtfully built world, incorporating themes we can recognize from our own world.Nothing here is underdeveloped; there are so many details in every bit of the worldbuilding. Becky Chambers integrates stories about colonialism, war, and xenophobia into this story. I can't imagine the dedication it takes to build such an interesting, thoughtful world. 

Perhaps this all sounds overwhelming, but this story stays so grounded in our human experiences that it doesn't feel too fantastical. Chambers is always careful to bring herself back to humanity. 
You are capable of anything, Rosemary, good or bad.

I loved these characters so much. Rosemary is framed as the protagonist— she's a new clerk with a secret past. Sissix is the second-in-command, an affectionate reptilian life form. Kizzy is the mechanic, a spastic human disaster but definitely a funny one. Jenks is the other mechanic, far more down-to-earth despite being Kizzy's partner in crime. Lovey is the Wayfarer's lovable and funny AI. Ashby is the captain of this entire mess, a caring but tired guy who just wants his crew to be happy. There's the ironically named Dr. Chef, a caretaker whose species is going extinct. There's Ohan, a Sianat Pair, who believe themselves connected to a vast network and able to see the cosmos. And there's Corbin, a xenophobic grump with a surprisingly interesting character. 

I really want to recommend this for fans of Firefly, because it's got That Vibe. The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet is about found family— a ragtag group of misfits finding a home together. Is there anyone who doesn't love that trope? There are so many great platonic relationships here; the two mechanics, Kizzy and Rosemary, and the captain and his second-in-command especially stood out in my mind. There are three good romantic relationships here, but none overtake the book. All three are between two different species, which I really appreciated. 

These characters are also incredibly diverse— there are normalized gender-neutral pronouns, major nonwhite characters (not even counting the aliens), and major lgbt characters who aren't treated differently by the narrative. Lots to love! 

I pretty much only had one complaint, which is incidentally the exact same as Pragya's major issue. Part of the ending seems out of place with the rest of the book. For three hundred pages, this story stays slow; definitely something to consume slowly, not in one session. But one part of the climax seems thrown in to orchestrate a sequel, which I didn't love. After so much buildup, this slightly underwhelming conclusion was disappointing. 

That being said, I definitely recommend this. Can't wait to read the sequel! 


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