I like three kinds of science fiction books; scifi romance (Linnea Sinclair, Carol Van Natta, Carysa Locke), Star Trek scifi books and ones so ground I like three kinds of science fiction books; scifi romance (Linnea Sinclair, Carol Van Natta, Carysa Locke), Star Trek scifi books and ones so grounded in the character development the scifi elements are basically tangential to the story. A LONG WAY TO A SMALL ANGRY PLANET fits into the last category quite well.
Its not that it doesn’t delve into the science of why the ship runs on algae or how many different ways there are to “punch” through space. It does and at times in more detail than I could understand, but the heart of the story was the relationships between Kizzy, Sissix, Ashby, Jenks, Ohan, Lovey and Rosemary. These guys get to spend a year (or so) together on this long haul little stop over mission (of periliousness) and sometimes it doesn’t go smoothly (even for the members who have worked together for ages).
Ashby slowly realizes that maybe he’s been treating Lovey, the ships independent AI, as less than a member of the crew.
How Ohan doesn’t want to worry their crew mates about their impending death and how the crew reacts to a real chance to save them (but at what cultural cost to Ohan’s identity).
How Sissix makes concessions for her human “feather family”, and the toll it takes on her.
There’s so many things they need to work out and work around and just communicate about, but that’s not easy. Even amongst close friends or people you consider your family. So in walks Rosemary, a young lady looking to get as far from Mars as possible. She doesn’t have long haul experience or much by way of alien interactions, but she is very skilled and is trying her hardest to do better. Much of her inner dialogue is about how her observations are too human centric, so she tries to see it from whichever species’ view as possible.
This is a book that made me feel invested in the characters’ lives and troubles (even the ones that were…disquieting) that made me fret about their safety, about their happiness, about their livelihood. It wasn’t action packed. It didn’t have a lot about politics or romance. It was a very (excuse my expression) down to Earth story about a long haul crew’s journey to a small angry planet....more
All right kids sit your butts in a chair and get ready for this entirely vague but very enthusiastic preliminary review. (look the book doesn't come oAll right kids sit your butts in a chair and get ready for this entirely vague but very enthusiastic preliminary review. (look the book doesn't come out til the Fall, we all must deal with that fact ok?)
Oh but this is behind a spoiler cut almost entirely JUST IN CASE. (view spoiler)[ Our Cast -
Nahri: a clever, adaptable young woman (early 20s?) living in Cairo where we set the beginnings of our story. She makes her living reading tea leaves, creating medicines and essentially swindling folk out of their money. She does have supernatural gifts (she can sense a person's illness, heal awful quick and is a stunning linguist), but largely she just wants to save enough money to go to Istanbul and study.
Dara: Surly, short-tempered, and awfully mercurial in his moods his appearance is unwanted and the burden he feels dealing with Nahri is evident. He's haunted by past horrors and largely doesn't like telling Nahri anything unless absolutely necessary (it's almost never necessary until she pushes him).
Ali: Youngest son of the king, Ghassen, he's uncertain exactly how he feels about everything and everyone. He thinks how the shafrit (half bloods born of daeva (djinn) and human relations) are treated is unfair and downright wrong, but he's also a scholar who's lacking world sense basically. He wants to do good, but is rather prone to choosing the wrong way to do that.
They're the important ones basically with various others playing large roles in the story these three weave. Note the book is separated between Nahri and Ali, following their lives before/during/after Nahri comes to Daevabad.
To say this book is steeped in a well defined setting is an understatement. Chakraborty does such a good job invoking the sounds, feel and smells of her various locations (largely Cairo, the desert and Daevabad). You can FEEL the love and effort she put into the getting the setting right so that as Nahri came into "the city of brass" my eyes widened in wonder, wishing I could see it, but having a beautiful image in my head based on her writing.
Nahri and Ali make for interesting contrasting characters to follow. Nahri isn't certain of her background or future, but she is certain of her ability to adapt. Time and again she tries to find her path with minimal help.
Ali is just uncertain about everything. His family and the best way to remain loyal while doing what his heart feels is right, who he could trust and how far he should trust them, what is good for the city and his people vs. what is good in general. He looks at everything, but has trouble understanding a larger scope.