The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a sci-fi novel and the first in the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers. It follows the lives of a crew of both humans and aliens on board the Wayfarer, a tunnelling ship, with each chapter focusing on different events on board as they travel towards the most important job of their careers.
WHAT I LIKED
My favourite part of this book was, of course, the characters themselves. I loved reading about all their differing personalities and how they fit in to the running of the Wayfarer. The characters I liked the most were Dr Chef, Jenks and Kizzy, though I really did warm to all of them by the end of the book. I like that all the characters had their own arcs within the story, and seeing the relationships between the characters change and grow. I particularly enjoyed learning the back stories of Rosemary, Corbin and Ohan and the events that unfolded in the book as a result of their backgrounds.
The alien races and cultures in this book were some of the most detailed I have come across in science fiction. It’s clear Chambers spent a lot of time creating all the different species, making them very different to humans both physically and in terms of personality, and I really enjoyed reading about all the cultural differences among the crew. Also, the setting in general, particularly the division among humans as well as the political situation in the Galactic Commons was really interesting. I thought using Rosemary, someone not very well travelled, as the protagonist was a great way to introduce the numerous different cultures and political situations to the reader, and the explanations to Rosemary in the book made more sense this way and didn’t feel out of place.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
There isn’t much I disliked about this book, and my only main criticism is that the book just didn’t feel long enough at 400 pages, bearing in mind that this is a standalone novel (although it’s part of a series, the other novels follow different characters in the same universe). As I was getting closer to the end, the knowledge that I won’t be reading about these characters again was disappointing. I would have loved to get to know the crew more on another mission in a direct sequel, but I respect the author’s decision to move on to other characters/stories.
Overall, the book was a really enjoyable read with several interesting twists and turns so I’m going to give it 4/5 stars. This book has been on my TBR for a long time now and I’m really glad I finally got round to reading it. I’ll definitely be picking up the next book in the series, A Closed and Common Orbit, very soon.