The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers | Book Review

★★★★☆
February 12th – 19th

I sometimes forget how much I really enjoy science fiction. If something has a cast of characters, especially multiple perspectives from them, I’m usually in. It’s the reason I like The Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel, and the reason I enjoyed Illuminae when I read those.

This book had been recommended to me several times, and my partner had purchased it a while ago. I got to it first, and I’m very glad that I did. The book was fantastic. It stars a full cast of diverse characters of different species, orientations, races, physical abilities and disabilities. It has politics and tension, and the mundane aspects of working and living on a spaceship headed for new territory.

The story starts with Rosemary, a girl who’s running from her past and accepts a job aboard the Wayfarer, a ship whose job is tunneling black holes for easier space travel. They accept a job to create a tunnel to a planet who has just joined the GC, basically the UN for planets and races. In the cast of characters we also follow the captain of the Wayfarer, Ashby, the pilot, Sissex, two technicians, Kizzy and Jenks, as well as Dr. Chef and a few other characters who are each given time to shine in their own chapters.

We learn about the backgrounds of the individual characters, the circumstances that brought them to the Wayfarer, as well as the history between their species and the GC, and we see the political, racial, and socio-economic tension that exists between all of these different groups.

My biggest complaint was the writing style. Ending most pieces of dialogue with “they said” was distracting, and there were times that the character’s personalities felt forced and not totally smooth or natural. Sometimes this also bled into the chemistry between characters, though most of that dissipated by the middle of the book. There were large info-dumps of important information which you felt that you should have known several chapters ago, and sometimes it felt like things weren’t explained at all. In contrast, there were also page-long dialogue sequences where the main character was asking the questions as the audience, mainly so another character could explain what was happening.

I liked the commentary the book made on the environment, on humans, and on what our species did to itself. I enjoyed the creativity of the different cultures, specifically with the types of languages we see and the ways they were spoken (such as on inhales as well as exhale, or with multiple simultaneous tones.) I’m really excited to continue this series and see where it leads, and I can’t wait to pick up the next book soon.

-Siobhan

The Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel | Book Series Review

 

January 1st – 12th 2017 | May 19th – 25th 2017 | June 26th – July 3rd 2018
★★★★☆

This is a weird moment.

I started the first book in this series, Sleeping Giants, at the beginning of last year. I got a free digital version of the book from some promotion, and it sounded really interesting. Giant robots? Science? Aliens? Sign me up! I read it in just under two weeks, coming off of a massive re-read of Harry Potter that I had started at the beginning of December 2016. This was the first “new” book that I had read in a few years. I felt rusty, learning new stories instead of depending on old ones that felt nostalgic to me. There’s something amazing about re-reading a series you love, but there’s something even more amazing about discovering a new one.

The Themis Files are that series for me. I’ve read a few series the past two years, but this one stands out as one of my favorites. Finishing the first book in January of last year, I had to wait until March for the second book to come out. The real eternity came with the over year-long wait for the third and final book. Though this book came in the mail in the midst of my reading slump, I’m glad that I finally picked it up and was able to get back into this world.

Sylvain Neuvel started writing this book on his iPhone, sitting on his couch at the end of the night. He’s a busy dad, he didn’t have time to write

And he did. Three times. He’s a huge inspiration for me. I’ve read his interviews, I’ve talked to him briefly on Twitter and Goodreads. Besides being a great author, he’s a kind and amazing human being who loves his fanbase and is just excited to have someone to talk to about the stories that he’s telling. If I’m ever published, I hope to some day be the type of author that Sylvain Neuvel is.

Spoilers ahead.

These books tell a complex story. They weave characters in from other planets, and they do so with such care. The entirety of the trilogy is told through interviews, recorded conversations, news broadcasts, letters, and journal entries from a sea of different characters. He killed off and brought back one of my favorite characters, then killed two other favorites. But they’re all favorites. Neuvel’s characters are beautifully flawed and real. They react as humans would react.

The main premise of the books are this: mankind finds giant robot parts buried at different points in the Earth. They uncover them, build the robot, and try and find ways to pilot it. They find that the robot was put here by an alien race who visited a long time ago, and that alien race comes to Earth to finish what they started.

Things get more complicated from there. There are politics, science, and giant robot fights. It’s a wild ride from start to finish. Countries are at war, people are detained, different languages are spoken in the book, not all of them from Earth.

The third book in particular feels extremely relevant to everything going on in today’s world, and makes me wish that an alien race would just come down and tell us to stop everything happening politically.

I found myself lost in these books. They’re quick, fun, enjoyable, and I can’t wait to see what else Sylvain Neuvel writes, because I know I’ll get just as lost there.

The Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel | Series Review

January 1st – 12th 2017
★★★★☆

May 19th – 25th 2017
★★★★☆

June 26th – July 3rd 2018
★★★★☆

This is a weird moment.

I started the first book in this series, Sleeping Giants, at the beginning of last year. I got a free digital version of the book from some promotion, and it sounded really interesting. Giant robots? Science? Aliens? Sign me up! I read it in just under two weeks, coming off of a massive re-read of Harry Potter that I had started at the beginning of December 2016. This was the first “new” book that I had read in a few years. I felt rusty, learning new stories instead of depending on old ones that felt nostalgic to me. There’s something amazing about re-reading a series you love, but there’s something even more amazing about discovering a new one.

The Themis Files are that series for me. I’ve read a few series the past two years, but this one stands out as one of my favorites. Finishing the first book in January of last year, I had to wait until March for the second book to come out. The real eternity came with the over year-long wait for the third and final book. Though this book came in the mail in the midst of my reading slump, I’m glad that I finally picked it up and was able to get back into this world.

Sylvain Neuvel started writing this book on his iPhone, sitting on his couch at the end of the night. He’s a busy dad, he didn’t have time to write 

And he did. Three times. He’s a huge inspiration for me. I’ve read his interviews, I’ve talked to him briefly on Twitter and Goodreads. Besides being a great author, he’s a kind and amazing human being who loves his fanbase and is just excited to have someone to talk to about the stories that he’s telling. If I’m ever published, I hope to some day be the type of author that Sylvain Neuvel is.

Spoilers ahead.

These books tell a complex story. They weave characters in from other planets, and they do so with such care. The entirety of the trilogy is told through interviews, recorded conversations, news broadcasts, letters, and journal entries from a sea of different characters. He killed off and brought back one of my favorite characters, then killed two other favorites. But they’re all favorites. Neuvel’s characters are beautifully flawed and real. They react as humans would react.

The main premise of the books are this: mankind finds giant robot parts buried at different points in the Earth. They uncover them, build the robot, and try and find ways to pilot it. They find that the robot was put here by an alien race who visited a long time ago, and that alien race comes to Earth to finish what they started.

Things get more complicated from there. There are politics, science, and giant robot fights. It’s a wild ride from start to finish. Countries are at war, people are detained, different languages are spoken in the book, not all of them from Earth.

The third book in particular feels extremely relevant to everything going on in today’s world, and makes me wish that an alien race would just come down and tell us to stop everything happening politically. 

I found myself lost in these books. They’re quick, fun, enjoyable, and I can’t wait to see what else Sylvain Neuvel writes, because I know I’ll get just as lost there.

Artemis by Andy Weir | Book Review

December 29th 2017 – January 1st 2018
★★★★☆

If you look on the books subreddit, the discussion for Artemis by Andy Weir can come across as people being unsure of the age of the character, and not being a huge fan of the way Jazz talks. As a side note, I do not recommend going into that thread if you haven’t read the book. If you haven’t read the book, this review doesn’t contain spoilers, so you’re safe.

Artemis is a relatively light read, if you don’t mind a lot of technical scientific discussion mixed in with quite a bit of immature dialogue and cursing. That being said, I really enjoyed it.

I don’t want to fully compare this book to The Martian, I don’t think it’s a fair direct comparison, but I will say this: I think that these two books aren’t really in the same category. The Martian felt much more realistic than Artemis did. It wasn’t the location, they both take place off of Earth, for me it was the amount of time that had surpassed. Both novels are very well researched, extremely technical, and have snide main characters. However, since more time had passed between present day and Jazz’s time in Artemis, it felt more like future science fiction than The Martian did to me.

The main character of this book is Jazz Bashara, a woman who grew up in Artemis, which is the lunar colony in this novel. Jazz is a criminal. She smuggles things into Artemis and does other small criminal-ey things. Her character is not for everyone. Jazz can come across as annoying and a bit of an ass at times, and definitely does not act her age. I found Jazz to be really funny and smart, even if her knowledge was a bit over-convenient to the plot line. I enjoyed her relationship with her father, and how underneath everything, she was really a good person who was trying to do her best.

This book is about a heist. As I said earlier, no spoilers, so I’ll just say that the heist has to do with control over production in Artemis. The plot is fast paced, and I flew through the 305 page book in less than two days. This book has two flaws: it’s characters are polarizing, in that the audience is either going to really enjoy Jazz, or really want her to shut up, and the plot is very convenient. Much like The Martian, Jazz knows exactly how to solve whatever problem comes her way.

This was a great book to start 2018 on. It was quick, fun, and provided just the right amount of sass that I was looking for in science fiction. With a fun, diverse cast of characters, I gave this book four stars. The only thing that could have made this book a five star book for me was if there was less convenience in the plot, or if Jazz didn’t have all the answers herself.

-Siobhan