The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is easily one of the most feel-good books I've read in a while. Put it this way: I think if Kaylee decided to rewrite a cross between Firefly and TNG, this book might be the result. There really aren't any bad guys; just people with problems, each of which is bound to find a solution. It may not be so good for general YA--lots of of profanity, and given that one of the species involved is prone to orgies, there's also quite a bit of sexual content-- which is unfortunate, since in all other aspects, I think it would have been good for a younger audience as well.

As in most space-opera-style scifi, there's lots of political and social commentary, mostly in a positive social-uplifting way. Mind you; I think a lot of the scenes and the characters' actions imply a much more problematic perspective, which may be one reason I couldn't totally jump onboard with the story.

[A few examples:
- The whole thing with Corbin. The others despise him and cold-shoulder him throughout the entire story, never giving him benefit of the doubt, going silent when he comes into the room, etc, etc. Chambers clearly intends us to dislike him too. He's the straw intolerant, there to be shut down again and again. To me, he came across as on the spectrum, which made the others' treatment of him simply unkind. Of course he's a loner; the others treat him like crap whenever he's around and pretty much pressure him to leave.
- I find the subplot with Lovey sickening. The equivalent, to my mind, is a woman who is pressured by her man to get breast implants. No, it's not her choice; she's doing it to make him happy. Or to put it a different way, it's the enslaved being seeking to be molded in the shape of her master and to emulate his form and his desires. Which makes all his speechifying utterly disgusting.
- I hated the Ohan subplot. To me, the correct issue was never actually expressed: while killing the virus could save them, it would also stop them from being them. Death or annihilation of identity: what a choice. The analogue here is someone with a mental illness being forced to take meds. Sure, the outside world may find them weird, but if they want to be who they are and they're not harming anyone else, how does anyone have the right to force them to destroy their own identity? It's not saving your life if you have to lose who you are, and Chambers does her reader and her story a disservice by never even really digging into that aspect.]

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Whatever my feelings about certain subplots, I was extremely impressed by the way Chambers managed to keep everything fluffy and positive without ever drifting into the saccharine. If you want a low-key heartwarming read,The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is definitely worth a look.