Review: A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers #2)

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This is exactly the sort of book I needed. I flew through it so fast. I have almost forgotten what that’s like. Any book that can make me attached anough to the characters to cry is something special. And while it’s a light, uplifting, overwhelmingly optimistic read, it’s also the proof that neither of those descriptors has to mean shallow.

“I have so many questions I want to ask you. You’ve got me thinking about things I’ve never chewed on. It’s not comfortable, realising that you’ve been wrong about something, but I suppose it’s a good thing to do from time to time. And you…you seem like you have questions, too. You came to me because you thought I could help. Maybe I still can. So…if you don’t think I’m a complete asshole, maybe we can try again. Y’know, being friends.”

Despite it being a sequel to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, it can be be read as a standalone, as long as you don’t mind a part of the ending of the former being spoiled.

The scope and the character count is much smaller, making it feel more intimate and structurally neat. It switches between two perspectives. The first is Sidra, an AI newly transferred into an illegal artificial human body. Despite the widespread acceptance of various species, AIs, even the sentient ones, are considered not people and are therefore without any rights – if she was discovered, her body kit would have been seized and possibly destroyed. We follow her as she struggles to adjust to her new life, make friends, avoid detection.

The second is Pepper, a minor character from The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet who was born a factory slave on a planet where genetically modifying humans for various tasks is the norm. Her storyline details her past and her escape. There’s no real overarching plot aside from that, just two small, personal stories. Still, the chapters are short, making the book a quick read.

The main themes include starting again, acceptance, identity. Who is it that decides that someone gets to be a person or not? And while I loved both of the characters equally, there was something special and personal about Sidra for me. Struggling with having to stay within social norms against her comfort to avoid discovery, the sensory issues. It stuck a chord.

Enjoyment: 5/5
Execution: 5/5

Recommended to: fellow slice of life enthusiasts, anyone who needs something uplifting (I swear it makes you cry in a good way), sci-fi fans
Not recommended to: those looking for plot-focused books

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