Blurb from Goodreads
With no water, no air, and no native life, the planet Gora is unremarkable. The only thing it has going for it is a chance proximity to more popular worlds, making it a decent stopover for ships traveling between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If deep space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop.
At the Five-Hop One-Stop, long-haul spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs, that is), and get fuel, transit permits, and assorted supplies. The Five-Hop is run by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child, who work hard to provide a little piece of home to everyone passing through.
When a freak technological failure halts all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers—all different species with different aims—are thrown together at the Five-Hop. Grounded, with nothing to do but wait, the trio—an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, and a mysterious individual doing her best to help those on the fringes—are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go, and what they are, or could be, to each other.
And so with this novel Becky Chambers completes her Wayfarers quartet… and honestly, it was the perfect ending. It’s a book that manages to feel incredibly expansive with its cast of characters, but also beautifully intimate.
If you haven’t read any of the Wayfarers novels before now I completely recommend that you rectify that promptly. Each book is set in the same universe but have their own unique storyline so technically can be enjoyed in any order.
As with any Chambers’ novel the emphasis is placed on character over plot. The plot just acts to throw a disparate group of aliens together to see how they’ll all interact over the course of a short few days.
And how they interact is deeply fascinating. Each character felt completely unique from their personality to their physical description. I love how Chambers uses different alien species to create a commentary on the diversity of and the inclusivity that is needed here in our own time.
Here we have a mix of five characters from four different species. Ouloo and Tupo are a Laru mother and child. Roveg is a Quelin. Pei, who we know as Ashby’s love interest from The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, is an Aeluon. And Speaker is an Akarak.
I particularly loved how there was no human main character because I think it really emphasised the main theme of this book of finding commonality with someone so incredibly different from yourself. In my opinion, Chambers is an absolute master at creating these different alien characters as each not only had a personal backstory but we were given entire species backstories. I don’t know if you’d technically refer to it as world building but whatever it is it’s flawless. I lived and breathed these characters as I read so real did they feel to me.
Confining the characters to the one location for a number of days was an ingenious idea. It was the perfect snapshot of people starting as strangers and getting to quickly develop their relationships as they learned more about each other and each other’s beliefs.
And can I just applaud how Chambers uses a child character with gender neutral pronouns to explore the concept of gender and to illustrate how it’s a societal construct… I loved the relationship of the child character Tupo with xyr mother Ouloo and how Ouloo was so supportive of letting her child discover who xyr are in xyr own time.
I completely adored this book. There was absolutely nothing I would change about it. Admittedly I’m a little sad to say goodbye to the Galactic Commons of the Wayfarers series because of how much these books mean to me, but I’m also excited to see where Becky Chambers will next take her readers. I for one will definitely be coming along for the ride.
Recommended to fans of intelligent character driven fiction and anyone who likes to dream of what a life among the stars might be like.
*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*
Publishing 18th February 2021, Hodder & Stoughton