Saturday 5 October 2019

#CBR11 Book 70: "Record of a Spaceborn Few" by Becky Chambers

Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 4 stars

From Goodreads:
From the ground, we stand. From our ship, we live. By the stars, we hope

Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.

Tessa chose to stay home when her brother Ashby left for the stars, but has to question that decision when her position in the Fleet is threatened.

Kip, a reluctant young apprentice, itches for change but doesn't know where to find it.

Sawyer, a lost and lonely newcomer, is just looking for a place to belong.

When a disaster rocks this already fragile community, those Exodans who still call the Fleet their home can no longer avoid the inescapable question:

What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination?

Having now read all three of Becky Chambers' Wayfarers novels, I think I can confidently say that the first one, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is still my favourite one. This third novel is the one it took me the longest to really get into, and I kept putting it down and getting distracted by other things because it's a lot slower than her other two books. For a while, I wasn't really "feeling" it, and was wondering if I was just in the wrong head space for the story. Concerning itself with the different points of view of a number of individuals living on an aging space station, populated by Exodans (the descendants of the humans who first left Earth to live on ships among the stars), and also the observations of an alien scientist there to study their way of life. With a lot of the characters, I didn't really see why I should care about them, and it took me quite a while to see how all the point of view characters' stories fit together.

Once the book entered its final act, so to speak, and it all became clear to me, this book had me in tears and I suddenly understood exactly why Chambers had chosen to tell the story the way she had. The emotional payoff simply would not have been as powerful if I hadn't stuck with the story and gotten the various back stories, eventually woven together to a beautiful conclusion. To anyone reading this review, who may be doubting whether they should keep going with the book, even through the slow start - stick with it, it's very worth it in the end.

Judging a book by its cover: This may be the first of these books where, while I think the cover is pretty, I don't necessarily think it really fits with the book. The silhouette looks like a person sitting on the ground looking up at the stars, someone clearly planet-bound. Yet all of the people in this book are on space stations, born and raised, it's an important part of the story. I think another image might have suited the book better.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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