A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBIT (Wayfarers #2)
Written by Becky Chambers
Published by Hodder and Stoughton, October 20, 2016
My star rating: 2.5 stars
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. Find it on Goodreads
Where do I even start? After finishing this book, my thoughts and feelings had an epic battle. There were some serious highs and lows but, in the end, the lows won. I honestly expected this to be a 5 star book. Especially since I LOVED the first book so much! Sadly, the second book didn’t share the same experience.
In this sequel we get two perspectives. The first perspective is of Lovelace/Sidra. She is the AI (Artificial Intelligence) that was on the ship in the first book. There was a way for her to physically leave the ship and be “implanted” into an artificial body. This perspective follows her as she chooses her own identity (first choosing the name Sidra), finds her own personality, and deals with freedom. I found this perspective the most boring and repetitive. Her experiences were supposed to be educational as she experiences life away from the ship from the first time, but her fears and inability to relate to those around her stifled the experience a bit. Instead of really experiencing things, she spent the whole time wanting to be back where she was and feeling like she didn’t belong. Also, because she is an AI and not an actual being, her “personality” was very one dimensional. Try as I might, I just couldn’t connect to her at all. If I were to rate this book based on this perspective alone, I would have rated this book 2 stars.
The second perspective was of Jane. She’s a young girl who was bred to work in a factory that took in scraps, repaired what they could, and scrapped the rest. This was child labour on a whole new level. One day she’s able to escape and finds safety in an abandoned ship with an AI named Owl. She had only ever lived at this scrap factory. Never even so much as seeing the sky. She had lived her whole life in the factory so even seeing the sky was confusing. She is able to find her way, learn about the outside world, and grow up with the assistance of this AI system. Now THIS perspective I LOVED! We had the mystery of her upbringing, the adventure of her finding out that there was a whole world outside of the factory, and the arc of her going from a child of the age of 10 until she was in her 20’s. If I were to rate this book based on this perspective, I would have rated this book 4 stars.
Another great thing about this book was the relationship between Pepper and Sidra. Pepper was so accommodating and friendly, always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that Sidra was as comfortable as possible. She was a genius that was protective and loving, and wanted to safely teach Sidra about the outside world. But at the same time, there were some serious faults to their relationship. Pepper could have related so much more with Sidra. They had quite a few experiences that were close in nature, but Pepper refused to relinquish any control. If only she would have communicated with Sidra, there could have been SO MUCH MORE understanding between the two! Peppers life before Sidra had so many experiences that could have helped Sidra adjust. Maybe really helping her realize that she wasn’t alone. Or Sidra could have asked for advice on how to climatize herself. Yet this remained a missed opportunity.
What I also struggled with was that this book missed pretty much everything that I loved about book one. In The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, we learned A LOT about other species, their customs, and their ways of life. It was also a book about connections and relationships regardless of species or ways of life. I really missed learning about other species and the detail book 1 held. We still got some detail but it was definitely not enough. It fell flat.
I’m not really sure that I will continue the series. Like I said above, this book was a massive struggle to get through. It almost felt as if it was a totally different author! If I was guaranteed that there would be mote experiences from Pepper I might consider it… But for now I’m taking a break from this series.
Until next time, happy reading!