Sounds like the sort of thing that makes us all depressed at large family gatherings during holidays, amirite?

Written by
Becky Chambers in 2014

Right, so the last book I read, Empire Ascendant, is the kind of book that chews you up and spits you out like a bad divorce. Also, since pretty much everyone dies, it’s also quite depressing. I decided that the next tome to read should be the opposite of that, and something entitled The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet sounded perfect. Even a little Hitchhiker’s Guide on first impressions. Except I have to now use an acronym because I can’t be bothered typing that whole thing all every time. Sorry guys. TLWTASAP. Don’t try to pronounce that.

Rosemary is running away from her life, her mistakes and her past. She’s used the last of her money to find a new job on board the Warfarer, a wormhole tunneling ship with an eclectic crew of humans and aliens.

There’s Ashby, the pacifist captain whose alien girlfriend is running cargo in a warzone. Sissix is a Aandrisk that resembles a lizard, Kizzy and Jenks are the techheads that keep the ship running, and Odan is a mysterious alien with a symbiotic virus that lets them see wormholes in a new light. Rosemary is welcomed with open arms by the crew, and life settles into routine. They even let Rosemary sit in on her first wormhole tunneling job.

TLWTASAP is not your typical space opera. There are only two instances where space guns fire, and literally none of the main characters die. This is more of a feel good, character based story, that builds a lovely universe full of different cultures, ideas and ways to live. It’s also about accepting people’s differences to become stronger.

In fact, the book’s greatest strength is that there isn’t much action. Rather, it explores each crew member’s stories within the confines of the ship, and what they mean to the overall mission. This feeling of intimacy is what makes it worthwhile reading. What happens in the climax, when a large amount of excrement makes contact with a rotating properller-like device, is examined in the context of these characters you’ve travelled with, and how they deal with their near death experience.

I judge a book by how sad I feel when I leave its characters and its universe. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet finished so quickly that when I reached the last page, I was sad at my (apparent) reading speed and the fact that there’s no sequel (yet). Damn I hope there’s a sequel. This is one of the best books of 2015, just because of the amount of joy it brought to my daily commute.

Rating

Seriously, one of the best books of the year, period.

Read this if you…

Are sick and tired of dark and depressing fantasy full of politics, back (and front) stabbing where everyone dies horribly.

Skip this if you…

Don’t like character novels, and prefer action spectaculars.

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