Review of Becky Chambers’s THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

How in the world do you write a review for this book?

On the one hand, it’s brilliant. But I’m naturally going to say that about anyone who creates and juggles a universe worth of creatures with individual cultures, languages, and personalities. (I know from personal experience how difficult a task that is to pull off) The Galactic Commons reads seamlessly, and it ISN’T perfect and harmonious the way some authors try to insinuate when they decide they want to create an alternate universe. Every species behaves in a manner that makes sense, and they integrate in natural ways you believe and accept.

Sure, there’s the expected sprinkling of new vocabulary to substitute for the enhanced technology, but it’s easy to figure out what Ms. Chambers is getting at. (And anyone who reads sci-fi knows to expect this by now) It isn’t outrageous, and none of the names are so out-of-hand that you have to sub in “Bob” and “Joe” just to get through the pages. That alone is a refreshing change from other authors I could name.

But on the other hand, there’s no PLOT! The entire book is, essentially, exposition. It’s chapter after chapter of primer material to introduce you to the characters and the world in which they exist. There’s no crisis requiring resolution. No stakes involved. No antagonist. Not until the final three chapters, anyway. (And even that is pushing the definition of “crisis”) It’s a pleasant enough read, but there’s no urgency to keep you turning pages and staying on the edge of your seat to discover what’s going to happen next or who’s going to survive or whether the clock will tick down one more second.

You basically have the equivalent of a travel guide to the GC.

Lovely, vaguely interesting, but nothing you’ll pick up unless you run out of other books on your To-Read pile.

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