Book Review: The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet



Title: The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet

Author: Becky Chambers

Rating: 5/5 stars

Series? Yes, companion novel out this year!


Book Depository // Dymocks // Booktopia

Be Warned: I love this book so much I don’t think I can be trusted to be coherent or impartial in this review. The flawless Kynn of Diva Booknerds recommended Small Angry Planet to me last year – as I trust her in all things bookish I purchased it, and it’s been sitting around on my Kindle for months on end. I want to go back and smack my past-self for ignoring this gem of a book for so long. Small Angry Planet is one of those rare books that has both heart and brain, capable of making you think and feel for a long time after its last pages.


I don’t read a lot of science fiction, but I do love the genre for exploring contemporary issues in a different setting. Not to mention that space is boundless in its ability to inspire, and the vastness of the unknown is ceaselessly intriguing. Small Angry Planet captures all of the things I love best about the genre, and further delivered a human (or should I say, sapient) warmth to the story. This is science fiction at its most approachable and intuitive. I could ramble senselessly forever, but here’s a list of why I love it so much:

My point, fellow representatives, is that Humans are a fractured, limping, adolescent species that has branched out into interstellar life not by merit, but by luck. They have not moved beyond intraspecies chaos.

1. The Universe

I can’t simply call this world-building when there’s an entire univese, with a multitude of spaceships, planets and alien species to consider. Based in a distant future where humanity has either colonised Mars or lead nomadic lives in spaceships scattered across the galaxy – the tables are turned and humans are no longer the most powerful being of our known world. Instead, we learn all about the more powerful species of the Galactic Commons. From the tactile and reptilian Aandrisk, to the graceful and silent Aeluons, to the wealthy and influential Harmagians – each of these species are explored in great details. We also get to see how humans have segregated and reunite after the losing Earth, and how other species may view us.

The world pushes at the boundaries of our expectations and challenge our bias. At the core of the vast universe is the resounding theme of tolerance and acceptance.

‘Do not judge other species by your own social norms.’

2. The Theme

As mentioned above, I love the highlighted theme of prejudice in this book. In this extremely diverse world, humans have to learn to adapt and assimilate with a multitude of cultural, biological and ideological differences.

It’s hilarious to see humans consider Harmagians hideous, and have them think the exact same. It’s wondrous to see Dr. Chef – who’s idea of gender is fluid because in his species, it’s dictated by how old you are. It’s mind-boggling to see Sianat Pair, a species infected by a virus which gives them unfathomable spatial aware, referred to as plural instead of singular. It’s reassuring to see the themes of love resonate across species and gender boundaries, a world where you’re taught to actively weed out your prejudices. We continue to see this topic explored in the way our cast of characters interacted with one another.

3. The Characters

They are all my precious and I love them all! Small Angry Planet is first and foremost, a character-driven story. Focused on the motley crew aboard the Wayfarer, it highlights the relationship and bond which develop while they undertake their biggest job yet: to punch a path into previously uncharted territory.

While the plot may sound grand, what’s the most delightful is seeing the characters living their day-to-day life aboard the ship, and learning about this universe as we go along. I wish ardently that there will be a spin-off book or TV show, just based on these guys hanging out and being awesome. With the cast we have:

Rosemary: The newest addition to the Wayfarer, acting as their clerk. As this is Rosemary’s first trip out of Mars into the vast universe, she acts as our eyes and ears during the trip. It was a delight sseeing her come into her own throughout the novel.

Sissix: A.K.A. my favourite. She’s an Aandrisk who’s found home amongst these odd humans. Their species is sensual and physical, making for some truly hilarious yet eye-opening scenes. Their perception of family is also vastly different from ours, making for some startling challenges. I love her for her perceptiveness and kindness, not to mention she’s one heck of a charmer.

Captain Ashby: The glue that holds our crew together, the steadfast and loyal captain who desperately try to do right and defy humanity’s bloody legacy.

Dr. Chef: One of the last surviving members of his species following a genocidal civil war – he remains kind-hearted and gentle. I mean, the man is a doctor and a chef rolled into one, he’s pretty much awesomeness personified.

Kizzy & Jenks have to be mentioned together, as these two mechanics are joined by the hip. I love their friendship, and I love how their attitude – their life is one giant finger to societal norms.

There’s also minor characters: Corbin, the difficult to love yet brilliant algaeist. Ohan, the proud and reclusive Sianat Pair. Lovey, the lovable AI controlling Wayfarer – they all get their own storyline and never lose their own voices. This crew is pretty much #squadgoals and I love them forever.

To be honest, the plot features very little in this book – don’t go into it expecting action. Here’s what you’ll get instead: a wondrous new universe, self-analysis of your own prejudices, and a warm afterglow. Read it, I beg you!

33 thoughts on “Book Review: The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet

  1. Great review Aentee! It sounded a lot like Zodiac, but that one disappointed me, this looks like it would be a lot better. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OKAY SO I DEFINITELY BASICALLY WANT IT. *shrieks* I don’t read Sci-Fi very often?? Like barely ever at all…but I WANT to because I’m developing a taste for outer-space thingies. And I always like books that comment on issues relative to our society today too *nods* ALSO I REALLY LIKE THE COVER FOR SOME REASON.
    *sends self to goodreads*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This book is so approachable and just lovely so I think even people who don’t like scifi will love it. Plus the characters are beyond adorable. I hope you’ll enjoy it ❤


  3. I have such love for this book and I’m ridiculously excited about the companion novel (with it’s equally beautiful cover). This is a brilliant review – it’s really hard to explain what makes this book so wonderful but you do a very good job =D!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The blurb of the companion novel has me so giddy and excited I can’t even breathe! and I agree, the cover is so beautiful, I like it more than the cover for Small, Angry Planet even!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I stared at a copy in my library for a good 5 minutes until I realised I was going to miss my train. It’s on the top of my books to borrow when semester break hits. I love SF because it makes me contemplate those contemporary concerns too! It does it in a slightly more accessible (and engrossing) way than some drier non-fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This one is so special and I definitely think it’s a book you’ll enjoy, Glaiza. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it some day.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds really cool! I haven’t heard of this, I’ll have to track down a copy. Hopefully the library has it!


    1. It’s honestly chicken soup for the soul, the scifi version! I hope you’ll find it at your local library.


    1. I saw your review for this on Goodreads, I am glad to see you enjoyed it as well ❤ Can't wait for the companion novel.


  6. I hadn’t heard of this book before you mentioned it Aentee but I love the sound of the characters and how there are different species in space! It sounds like it really makes us think about our world as well. Lovely review, I’ve added it to my TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is seriously the best book I’ve read in a long while – both objectively and subjectively – my heart and my brain all 100% approve of the characters and themes. Check it out, Jeann!


    1. The wonderful thing about this book is even people who aren’t scifi fans are relate and love it, it’s just so special and wonderfully written! Definitely rec it if you’re after a comforting read ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. EEP! This is THE book for people who don’t like scifi but want to try scifi. I am certain most humans would approve of it.


  7. Great review. I recently read this book and I’m struggling to put my thoughts into words. I agree it’s a fantastic book that puts prejudice and racism (speciesism?) in a harsh light because it is so prevalent in the book and I loved it for that. It’s good commentary on racism in the current era and I love that fact.

    My only complaint about the book is that it ended too soon. I wanted more resolution and wanted more of this world because it was immense. I know there’s another book coming out, but I wanted more to this story as that one will follow a different path, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely want more of the book in this world and thought the ending was a little rushed as well. Hopefully we will have our fill with the next book!!


  8. I’ve seen this book around every whereee, I even think I’ve seen it on your instagram, but I never knew what it was about! I love science fiction, but honestly, I hardly read anything from the genre. Every year I find that I only pick up one to two SF books which is beyond terrible! GIRL, I don’t know what it is, but you can write a damn good review! I seriously need to stop by your blog more, even though I know I’d just spend more coins than I need to lol. But anywho, I just added this to my TBR, and later on this week, I’ll be picking it up! Thanks for sharing boo 🙂


  9. I haven’t heard of this book till now! As much as I wanted to continue reading your review, I am a bit off. I think it’s because there’s not much action like I’m used to. This reminds me of Sleeping Giants tho.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve slept Sleeping Giants and found it really hard to get into. It’s definitely very different. And if you like things like Firefly I think you’ll enjoy this.


  10. YES YES YES! THIS BOOK! (I know my comment is very delayed, but I just had to squee all over this review.)

    It’s one of my absolute favourites, and one of my best sci-fi discoveries. It’s just so hilarious but also so profound. And like you said, the world building and the character development are just amazing. Also, it was so diverse and so progressive!

    I’m incredibly joyful that you loved this one as much as I did!


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