A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers – eARC Book Review

Blurb from NetGalley

In A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Hugo Award-winner Becky Chambers’s delightful new Monk & Robot series gives us hope for the future.

It’s been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honour the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.

They’re going to need to ask it a lot.

Becky Chambers’s new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?

My Review

Becky Chambers has done it again. A Psalm for the Wild-Built is simply perfection. 

I absolutely adore Chambers’ Wayfarers series and wondered would I get the same feelings of connection with her latest endeavour, and I 100% did. 

The story follows main character Sibling Dex who is a monk that is feeling an aching hollow within their life. Props to Chambers for yet again creating a character that challenges and dispels the current societal expectations of gender norms. The setting for the book seems to be some future version of our world. One where humans have returned to a more environmentally sustainable version of life, and one in which robots have seemingly gained a sort of sentience and live separately in their own community. …I’m not explaining this very well but trust me when I tell you that the setup is entirely plausible in Chambers’ capable hands. Her world building is simply effortless; from the first page she sets the scene in a manner that just completely sucked me in to the story. 

Through a series of events Sibling Dex becomes the first person in generations to meet with a robot, the ingeniously named Splendid Speckled Mosscap, and the book is basically a first contact series of events as each tries to figure the other out. 

And all while this is happening Dex is struggling with the concept of purpose in their life…

I too struggle with the concept of purpose in my life. I frequently feel worthless and that I’m not contributing to society as I would like because I’m chronically ill. My days are not spent in the traditional manner. They instead revolve around me managing my illness and its associated symptoms. I look at other people achieving personal and career goals, and then I look at myself and my life has been static for years. I’m held by my illness. I can’t be the person I think I should be because I’m too sick to work; my internalised ableism makes me feel less than… And so I keenly identified with this aching feeling that Dex had. This sense of loss and looking for more.

I don’t wish to spoil the book but there’s a conversation between Dex and Mosscap at the story’s climax and… well I sobbed. I read it and the tears flowed. The idea of a purposeful life’s worth of endeavours was turned on its head for me and I felt… I don’t know what I felt. I can’t properly describe it. Maybe a dawning realisation that I, much like Dex, had been interpreting things inaccurately. There was a catharsis for me in those last few pages, and that to me is the true skill of a writer. I completely lost my whole self to this book. These characters spoke to the inner most parts of my soul and I feel forever changed. 

Imagine the safest you’ve ever felt. The most loved. The most comforted. Maybe that’s a warm and inviting hug… well this book? For me this book is that warm, soft hug. It’s a place to metaphorically curl up into and feel securely held. 

I can’t wait to return to the world of Dex and Mosscap for another quiet adventure because this book was simply sublime, and I give it my highest recommendation.

*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review* 

Publishing 13th July 2021, MacMillan-Tor/Forge

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3 thoughts on “A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers – eARC Book Review

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