Book reviews / Science Fiction

Book review: A Closed and Common Orbit


So this is the sequel to Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and it was so good. I think it was better than the first book – though the first book is necessary for this one being so good.

Essentially, in the first book you get the world building, you know what all the different species are about and what everything is called. In this book, that can be relatively put aside for the main story. And what a lovely main story! You get references to help you ease your way back into it but it’s unobtrusive.

So, plot. The story is essentially about Sidra, the AI from a ship now finding herself in an illegal body kit, trying to find her way in the world. At the same time, you have flashback’s to Pepper’s past (the tech who, in the last book, helped Sidra get into that body kit in the first place). WHICH IS SO SWEET.

Blubbers some more

It was a very compulsive read. For the first time in forever, I took 30 minutes away from my desk at work to have a quick read. I didn’t play on my phone on the Tube, I just wanted to read. And this evening, all I did was finish reading it. It was compulsively heartwarming.

Also, I think most of the main characters are all women (or aliens who change genders). Certainly Pepper, Owl (another AI) and Sidra (another AI) all present as female (do AIs have gender?). With Tak (one of the aliens) switching back and forth between genders. Finally there’s Blue, who is the main male characters (Pepper’s partner).

Like the first book, there’s a lot about relationships in this book but I think because there was only a handful of characters (and not a shipful) it was a lot easier to get so absorbed in the story. It also explored the universe a bit more, especially with Pepper’s story. I hope there are more set in this universe because it is an interesting place to find yourself in.

Also, I love Chambers’ writing style. It is uplifting and hopeful, charming and welcoming. It is simply a delight to read.

I recognise that I’m inherently biased towards this book because it falls within my favourite (made up) genre of: funny and/or exciting shit happening in space (in this case not exactly space but a space faring universe).

I think you also have to buy the central conceit of where the plot takes you (which I can’t give away because it’s really quite important and would ruin the ending for you). But, I think it sets it up well and while potentially quite convenient, it is a lovely ending to the book.

Anyway, if you liked the first book, you’ll almost certainly like this one. SO ADORABLE.

You can find out more about the book in episode 3 of the Science Fiction Double Feature podcast.

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