The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet
Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.
Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.
Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.
Spoilers beyond the cut.
Girl runs away from her dark past. Okay it's not that dark, her family was involved in arms dealing and she wants nothing to do with them anymore. She joins
There's the asshole, the touchy-feely feathered dinosaur, the manic pixie dream girl, the Peter Dinklage stock character, the bland captain, an AI with a heart of gold, along with the weird and mysterious
The good? At first I rolled my eyes at the protagonist getting wrapped up with an interspecies lesbian relationship, but at least the author ran with the idea and didn't rub it in the readers's faces every other paragraph. After the initial surprise, it was just part of life. The asshole isn't fleshed out, but he becomes interesting saving the life of their transdimensional navigator. Humans aren't a Big Deal, and Chambers shows how some aliens view humans. The ship getting boarded by pirates was potentially exciting. The story has a happy ending and everyone has warm fuzzies which is unlike a space opera. An interesting change.
The bad? Kizzy, the manic pixie dream girl, has no character development. She's a 12 year old girl with an engineering degree. Please jump into an unused airlock and cycle yourself out into the cold, hard void of space. Aliens really aren't alien, just humans in costumes. There are tons of info dumps couched as "news feeds" or letters from home but they took me out of the story more often than increase my investment with the tale.
The awful? The big bad antagonists the story was building up to were all bark and no bite. Everyone forgives everything and they're all super-best-friends. There is no real strife, there is no real action, and nobody's in any danger. It's not like Redwall where the villains end up being incompetent, in this case the villains aren't really there nor important to the author. The story is "Playing House In Space".
If this is Becky Chambers's first novel, she's written a three star book and I hope her plotting and characterization skills improve. I read it for the title, tbh.
If it isn't, two stars. It's a fun read, but it's much too long and unmemorable.