The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Wayfarer, book 1
by Becky Chambers
When Rosemary Harper joins the diverse crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t sure what to expect.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt this conflicted about a book before. Although this book has a lot of story elements that I typically love (found family of diverse characters living and working together on a space ship, quirky sci-fi, space pirates!) it ultimately fell pretty flat for me.
While I’m no sci-fi expert, I have been into the genre for a very long time. And all of the characters and plot points within this book felt like I’d seen them before somewhere else. Not in a ‘this is similar’ kind of way, but in a ‘this is the same’ kind of way. Paired with the lack of major conflict, it made this feel like fanfiction. There’s nothing wrong with fanfiction, but it was not what I signed up for when I picked up this book.
We get to know the cast of characters through a series of vignettes displaying moments of getting to know one another. The characters felt like representatives of their species, rather than individuals, which seemed to conflict with the clearly stated theme of showing acceptance to diverse individuals. And the information being given read more like lore than backstory, so I never felt connected. The moments that had potential for conflict were resolved neatly and effortlessly without any real conflict ever occuring. Chambers’ writing style is just too direct for my taste. I like a bit of nuaunce.
All that being said, I do see why this works for a lot of people. There is a variety of characters from different species travelling through space together. It covers a lot of ground in an easily digestible way. It’s a low-stakes, warmheated, and gentle cozy story. If you like those types of stories, this would probably work better for you. And if you’re new to sci-fi and a little intimidated with where to begin, I think this could be a great entry point.
I recommend this if you like cozy stories and you’re looking to try out sci-fi.