Liz Currently Loves….The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet


Publication Date: Available Now from Hodder and Staughton

Source: Netgalley

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.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet promises so much and delivers so much more. One of those books you simply HATE to leave behind, so involved have you become in the minutae of the characters lives that you have practically lived with them yourself.

A really wonderful read on so many levels, a character drama set in space, an intensely intelligent and evocative building of worlds that sinks into your subconcious and hovers there, I loved every minute of it.

We have humans and aliens, but it’s nowhere near as simple or as standard as that – Becky Chambers weaves her story around the almost mundane day to day, the difference of course being that this is Outer Space, the worlds we visit are not our own and the cultural richness and utterly gripping social strata of each different species we encounter make it completely and definitively addictive.

The glue holding it all together is the Long Way of the title – our eclectic and very differing crew members are all heading to one place to complete one task – the road is seemingly forever, there are dangers and pitfalls along the way, odd moments of pure adrenalin followed by downtime of seemingly endless space –  throughout the journey we learn and adapt and are happy, sad, scared, alone, angry and emotional right alongside the inhabitants of the Wayfarer – a ship that becomes very much a character in its own right.

The sheer richness of the descriptive prose paints a truly magnificent vista for the reader to cast their eye over – the worlds are easy to imagine in the very talented hands of this writer – but the strength of this novel is not so much in the places as in the people. Rosemary is our “man on the ground” if you like – she is joining the ship trying to escape a family scandal – initially through her eyes we start to get to know the rest and get a handle on their many different layers – but as time goes on each character is given equal opportunity to shine, capture your heart or your sympathy or your disgust – a true group dynamic that is ever changing, ever developing and slowly but inexorably heading towards that small angry planet…

This is sharp, intuitive writing with a really keen eye for human nature and a brilliantly imaginative sense of how other species may view us. I liked how humans are actually the least important part of the universe she has created here, rather than being all that – it allows for a deeper exploration of ourselves in a lot of ways and as this group forms alliances and starts to become more than just a crew but absolutely a family, there are edge of the seat moments, utterly heartbreaking ones, some giggles and a whole lot of really terrific old school storytelling.

If you’ve read this far (thanks for sticking with me) you may have noticed that I have mentioned only one of the characters specifically – this is deliberate on my part, they are all so well drawn but I didn’t know anything about them going in and you shouldn’t either. I had the best time getting to know them  and I wouldn’t deprive anyone else of that – I finished reading this last week but I can still see every one of them, just glimpses out of the corner of my eye.

I was sad to leave the Wayfarer and those that travel with her behind. I can only hope to go back one day – The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is the type of novel that demands a sequel, cries out for one- YES I say. Let there be more – but even if this is the only time I get to spend with them all then it was time well spent. Not one wasted moment.

Brilliant. Highly Recommended. 5 of the biggest brightest shiniest stars ever. Plus a Dodo or two.

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Happy Reading Folks!





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