Monday, December 21, 2015

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

Title: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
Author: Becky Chambers
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published Date: 16 March 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

Somewhere within our crowded sky, a crew of wormhole builders hops from planet to planet, on their way to the job of a lifetime. To the galaxy at large, humanity is a minor species, and one patched-up construction vessel is a mere speck on the starchart. This is an everyday sort of ship, just trying to get from here to there.

But all voyages leave their mark, and even the most ordinary of people have stories worth telling. A young Martian woman, hoping the vastness of space will put some distance between herself and the life she‘s left behind. An alien pilot, navigating life without her own kind. A pacifist captain, awaiting the return of a loved one at war.

Set against a backdrop of curious cultures and distant worlds, this episodic tale weaves together the adventures of nine eclectic characters, each on a journey of their own.
(summary from Goodreads)

This book is EVERYTHING!

I feel a little like one of Chambers's characters, Chef, when it comes to trying to describe my love for this book. It's all incomprehensible groans, squeals and flails. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is brilliantly mind blowing. Chambers's world building, her narrative, her characters, their relationships - everything is just so good. This book is fun, action packed, emotional, interesting and utterly enthralling from beginning to end. I love how Chambers has set her narrative out. It reads like a season of a television series. There's overarching storylines, but each chapter is like it's own episode. As her characters are on a journey across space, so too does it feel like we're on a journey of our own, getting to know this world and it's inhabitants, enjoying multiple adventures into their cultures and relationships, and the epicness of space travel in general. There's so much to this book, really, but it never felt overwhelming or tedious. In fact, I want more. It's the kind of book that when you finish, you sigh and just sit to reminisce right away. Or turn back to page one and start over again. I haven't had the chance yet, but The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is definitely a reread and I can't wait to immerse myself in Chambers's story again.

What I loved so very much about this novel is its diversity. My God, I'm not even sure where to begin in highlighting the nature of the diversity Chambers has incorporated into her story. The universe has been opened to us and Chambers doesn't hold back. Multiple alien species with their own culture and way of life - we have lizard like aliens, blob like aliens, human like aliens, telepathic aliens, aliens with sensitive hearing. You name it and I'm pretty sure Chambers has covered it. Race, gender, religion, sexuality, disability - so many issues of diversity are at the forefront throughout this novel. The good and bad, the acceptance and judgement, it's all here. Even as fantastical as it is, it amazes me how so very different and yet so very familiar it all can be. It's astounding how relevant these characters and their stories are. Through the adventures of Chambers's nine crew members and their travels through space we see the way life can be, how it is, how it should be and shouldn't be. I realise I haven't given a lot of detail but that's because I don't want to spoil anything, even the littlest thing. You should experience The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet for yourself and everything you feel and learn should be new to you and yours alone. That's the best way I can sum up my recommendation for this book - experience it! Now, please.

I don't want to give away much about Chambers's characters either, but they are so awesome they need to be mentioned at least. They're a crew of a spaceship but they're also a family and my love for them - as a whole and as individuals - is boundless. Rosemary, Ashby, Dr Chef, Kizzy, Jenks, Sissix, Corbin, Ohan and Lovey - they each have a history and a story that is so rich. I adored their relationships. There's romance, friendship and antagonism, and each learn and grow from them, are affected and changed. I feel like I was too. The interactions between characters, their backstories, their loves and losses, their rules, their betrayals, their joys - I was captivated by all of it. These characters became my friends and family. Their losses and their joys were mine. I was right there with them on the Wayfarer, traveling across space, visiting different planets, creating wormholes. It was the best. I'm also just going to say I loved Jenks and Lovey's relationship the most, for everything amazing and accepting it represented. There's so much more to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet than just that and all of it is perfection, but that one YES I can't leave out. Intrigued? Again, READ IT.

There's no doubt that The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet will forever be one of my all time favourites. I loved it that much. Fans of science fiction and Firefly will definitely appreciate this one, but I firmly believe everyone should read this book at least once.



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