By Heather A.
5 out of 5 stars ★★★★★
Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.
Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.
I really loved this book. It reminded me a lot of Firefly–a rag-tag group crew on a ship, doing a job only few can do, and navigating through different cultures and identities. I found that the author’s writing was able to convey each character’s identity and still keep the humor one would expect in this type of sci-fi novel.
The most appealing part about the characters on the ship was the ability to recognize different cultural differences and act on them in a respectful way. For instance, the navigator of the ship has a, for lack of a better term, “virus” that lives inside of them. So though they present themselves as one person, the preferred pronoun is “they.” The crew has to adjust their thoughts to comply with their preferred pronouns, but because they respect the navigator they do so without complaint. The differences between each of the crew members is able to be conveyed through these small gestures.
Since Rosemary is a new member of the crew, we are able to see and respond to all these differences through her human perspective (though she was raised on Mars– so even she has cultural differences from what we Earthlings are used to). Throughout the book I was constantly amazed with how many different species and cultures the author was able to create and build upon. Literally the universe is infinite.
Of course, the universe is not without it’s villains. In this universe, it’s a band of territorial species which the government is trying to form an alliance. So the title references this planet that is disputed, but the crew only meets this species briefly–enough time for the “small, angry planet” to retaliate against them! Chambers brilliantly layered all the subplots in this scene to show the reader how the crew works together to solve the attack, it was really fascinating.
The next book in the series was released as a paperback and ebook in the UK and an ebook in the US just last month! The paperback version should be available in the US in March. I’m excited to see the universe expanded as we follow another member of the crew (an AI!). Definitely one of my favorite books this year! I would recommend it to anyone who like’s Hitchhiker’s Guide or Star Trek.