Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.
Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for – and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates.
The easiest way for me to rate/review A Closed and Common Orbit is to split it into two books: the Jane/Pepper story and the Lovelace/Sidra story.
Jane/Pepper: 5 stars
I could have devoured an entire series about Jane’s journey to becoming Pepper. The writing was heartbreaking and emotional, and I flew through these chapters. Knowing a little about Pepper’s history from The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet took nothing away from this story. Even though I knew she would survive and escape, I wanted to know everything about Pepper’s story.
Lovelace/Sidra: 3 stars
I truly appreciated the narrative on sentient beings, feeling disconnected from your body, and the journey to discovering your true self. Sidra was just. so. whiny. Everything was in one ear and out the other, and it felt like we were reliving the same experiences/situations/dialogue over and over again with no change in perspective or a resolution. Tak made these chapters bearable; even though they were not in The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, getting to know Tak was reminiscent of the interpersonal dialogue and exploration of different species found in the first book of the Wayfarers series.
A Closed and Common Orbit: 4 stars
The point at which these separate narratives came together was so satisfying. Not only was the search for Owl now deeply personal to me, but Sidra finally seemed to get a handle on herself. Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t want her to forget about her issues or bury her emotions and just be happy; I wanted her to accept that Pepper, Blue, and Tak were trying to help her, not hold her back or hurt her.
This was a very satisfying happy ending, one that I desperately wanted for Pepper’s sake. It tied the stories together beautifully and made the entire book worthwhile.
I would recommend A Closed and Common Orbit to anyone who has read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet as it continues within the same soft sci-fi vein, as well as anyone on the fence in regards to science fiction in general. I think the Wayfarers series is an excellent introduction due to its focus on interspecies communication and relations over technological developments. Becky Chambers is a beautiful, introspective writer who has created an incredible world within these books.
The planet was beautiful. The planet was horrible. The planet was full of people, and they were beautiful and horrible, too.