I know that I’m ridiculously late to the party on reading this book – and had been telling my bestie, who loves the books, that I wanted to make sure I was able to read it at my own pace without worrying about having to put the book down quickly. I’m very thankful that I’ve been able to read The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet in a few days with no other distractions, because I wasn’t ready for the sheer beauty, the warming feeling of family, or the ending, to completely blow me away.
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.
Have you ever read a book that feels so incredibly welcoming, like you’re becoming part of a family with the characters, and feel like you’re part of their crew? And when you’ve finished that book, you feel incredibly lonely like you’ve left a big group of friends? I felt this so hard with The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet. Although the main focus at the beginning is Rosemary, a new crew member with a past she’d rather forget, the book makes sure to focus equally on the other characters so you can truly get a sense of how everyone ticks in this diverse and entertaining crew.
The story itself is simple – the crew of the Wayfarer have managed to secure a job contract to punch a hole through space to connect one part of space to another, and the book follows the crew as they make their way to the punch site. It follows their ups and downs, their visits to other planets for supplies, and even the danger they face while travelling. The chapters were long, which made each one seem like a story itself. I adored this, as they felt very contained and almost like you were taking a glimpse into big parts of the characters lives in one single chapter. Each one also took plenty of time in describing parts of the planets, ports or wherever the characters were, so that you could really get a sense of the locations in the book. They were vivid, and burst off of the pages with ease. I really wanted to visit Port Coirol from the very first page of description about it, and was thrilled when they visited Hashkath as it sounded truly wonderful.
I was grateful for this book not being overly techie – and when it was, it was broken down into understandable language. I will admit that I find sci-fi daunting at times, especially when some books are so heavy on terminology that it almost feels like you have to be a scientist to figure it out. The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet doesn’t swamp the reader with terminology they won’t understand, nor does it make the reader feel stupid if they don’t understand something. It embraces the reader and helps them understand at their own pace. There’s a lovely scene near the beginning where Kizzy explains the space punch process to Rosemary, and through her eccentric way of explaining while using simple terms for Rosemary to get it, I got it too.
It was very hard not to feel for every character Becky Chambers has created in this book – from the loveable ship doctor and chef Dr. Chef, to the mysterious navigator Ohan, and the kind but firm captain, Ashby. Even the unlikable Corbin – who I couldn’t stand for most of the novel – ended up having an incredibly redeeming arc right towards the end. I completely fell in love with Jenks, Lovey and Sissix, and the three of them ended up being my favourite characters throughout. Jenks and Lovey’s woven storyline of almost a long-distance romance was absolutely beautiful – it was enough to tug on my heartstrings and want to root for them all the way, without being in-your-face lovey-dovey. But my favourite of the three was, undoubtedly, Sissix. Every page she was on was a joy for me to read, and I was so intrigued by her and the customs of other Aandrisks. I can only hope that there’s more focus on her in the next book, which I excitedly ordered mere minutes after finishing this book.
This book was pure joy. I’m sorry it took me so long to get to it, but I am so glad that I finally did. I know this’ll be a book I’ll return to for comfort, happiness, and to feel like I’m being hugged by this truly wonderful spaceship crew.
Final thoughts: A welcoming and utterly beautiful journey through space. 5/5