The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet has been on my wishlist for a while – I’d heard great things about it, and feel-good character focused science fiction sounded right up my alley. I’ve been reading a lot of review copies lately, and while many of them have been good, I wanted to read something that I’d been looking forward to for a while.
Rosemary Harper is the newest member of the crew of the Wayfarer, a spaceship that drills holes in space-time to create new faster-than-light routes between planets. The Wayfarer is unusual in that it has a multispecies crew, and they’re all one big family – something Rosemary never expected to find.
There’s no overarching antagonist in this book, it’s just about the crew of the Wayfarer (humans, aliens, and AI) going on a space roadtrip, learning about themselves and growing as people, and becoming even closer. It’s cozy, and you end up liking everybody by the end. The worldbuilding is great, it’s pretty much everything that makes a science fictional universe fun (to me, at least) – lots of alien species that are actually different from each other, faster than light travel, galactic politics, a run-down spaceship with a ragtag but loving crew (okay, that’s more the characters than the world), and even a galactic Wikipedia-type thing.
I really enjoyed this book, but it still had some obvious flaws. Every crew member in the book gets their own character growth arc, and even though that was satisfying in a lot of ways, it also made the book seem too neat. Not everyone got a happy ending tied up in a bow, but they all changed in important ways, and it all fit the timeline of the journey. It also made the characters seem flat, and too convenient at times, and it made me not invest in them as much. I didn’t end up feeling close to any of them, like I do with the best character-driven books.
Despite its problems, this book was good enough that I’ve pre-ordered the next book, A Closed And Common Orbit. It arrives in about ten days and I’m pretty excited to read it.
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