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What did you like best about The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet? What did you like least?
A great ensemble cast with beautiful dynamics among them. Fun, comforting. But no real plot! Lots of little episodes, but tension never develops except for short, half-chapter intervals.
30 of 32 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet?
I understand that this book was meant more to be a slice of life book than an action packed adventure. However, the book is made virtually entirely of "side-quests stories." So little happens in most of the book and there is relatively little "on-screen" character development (note: this book does give every character a good background... but that is not the same giving them a character arc. More on each character "backstory" in my next section) in the characters that read the middle chapters of the book in any order in order without getting very lost in terms of what is happening and why characters behave the way that they do. A few side character change/grow a little... but most of the main character don't change/grow/fall throughout 90% of the book.
Also... while this book is superficially a Firefly-esque novel... it lacks the snappy dialogue and one liners that what make Joss Whedon written stories memorable. Seriously... why to half a dozen characters from different species and difference parts of the galaxy all use the phrase "Oh Stars!" as an exclamations of surprise/frustration.
What was most disappointing about Becky Chambers’s story?
"There are only two things I can't stand in this world: People who are intolerant of other people's cultures, and the Dutch."
Virtually all sci-fi novels contain a bit of the author's personal politics and viewpoints on the human condition. However, the author crams this book full of her viewpoints on tolerance, alternative lifestyles (both LGBT and body modification as well as intentional/alternative communities), religion, inter-racial relation, war vs pacifism, ADHD vs neurotypical, capitalism/colonialism, abortion vs right-to-life vs right-to-die, sentience/sapience, vaccinations, religion, etc.
A lot of these are interesting topics worth writing about. However, there are so many topics that the author doesn't really devote enough time to explore them fully in a organic and considerate way. Instead she uses a really heavy-handed technique of using a lot of infodump monologues to present an alien culture or situation as a thin-veiled metaphor with such a weakly established strawman that show of very definitely opinion on the each matter.
Even agreeing with many of the viewpoints, I still see this deus ex machina as lazy storytelling. In most cases, a character (typically the naive Rosemary) is challenged with these new viewpoint for maybe about a paragraph of two... before quickly agreeing to "the view" and then nothing more is devoted to it for the rest of the book.
In fact, despite "tolerance" of other people's lifestyles and beliefs being such an important theme in the book... she has no qualms about having her characters reject opposing viewpoints when they don't agree with them and then makes the story to show that they were right all long. I also dislike the continual explicit emphasis on the characters avoiding "human centric" thinking, I mean I understand the point and agree with it... but the way the author shoehorns it in comes off as very overly-PC... especially since despite explicit saying this multiple times, the humans still never the less judge all the other aliens for their culture/beliefs anyway. Maybe this was satire and it just went over my head.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Disappointment. The description. setup was promising... but I feel like the book either just wasn't for me... or wasn't edited very well (this book as self-published).
Any additional comments?
This book felt more like a companion short stories anthology that fills in stuff from a main series of books. If it had been that, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more as there would have been a better foundation of plot and character development to hang these "filler" chapters on.
58 of 65 people found this review helpful