- my rating:3 stars
- published by: Hodder & Stoughton
- genres: adult, sci-fi, space opera
- content warnings: death of a child, murder, drug use, sex scenes
Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.
Tessa chose to stay home when her brother Ashby left for the stars, but has to question that decision when her position in the Fleet is threatened.
Kip, a reluctant young apprentice, itches for change but doesn’t know where to find it.
Sawyer, a lost and lonely newcomer, is just looking for a place to belong.
When a disaster rocks this already fragile community, those Exodans who still call the Fleet their home can no longer avoid the inescapable question:
What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination?
“From the ground, we stand.
From our ships, we live.
By the stars, we hope.”
Ahh, and so I have to say goodbye to another favourite series of mine. In truth it’s hard to let this one go. I adore this world so, so much. It always makes me feel all good and warm and happy inside. This entire series has been such a pleasure to read and I really appreciate Chambers for constructing a vision of the future where people are caring and hopeful and just generally better toward each other. This series relies on a presumption that in the future, humanity will learn to cooperate and respect each other and other species of aliens – and some reviewers call that naive, but I really like it. Sci-fi is a genre I find hard to access and engage with, but I find Chambers writing charming and accessible.
In Record of a Spaceborn Few we dive into life on the Fleet, examining how Exodan humans have lived and adapted to life in space. Told partly through a documentary being conducted on the humans by an alien from the outside, the worldbuilding is absolutely fascinating. I loved the focus on humans as space refugees, and how the narrative reinforced the inherent value and worth of people. Using a podcast to tell a part of the story was one of my favourite concepts here, I loved the formatting and the alien perspective on human activities was funny and endearing. Of all the books, this probably has the best world building, or it is at least equal with book one. I’ve always loved this series soft take on science fiction, as well as the careful detail and bountiful creativity Chambers put into constructing her vision of space. It absolutely shone in this book.
“The guilt lingered, even so. Ghosts were imaginary, but hauntings were real.”
Record of a Spaceborn Few once again, follows an entirely new cast. We follow Tessa, a human living in the Exodan fleet raising her family, and she is the sister of Ashby who appears in the first book. Kip, a teenager in the fleet who dreams of living in the stars. Eyas, a caretaker who’s job is to turn human remains into compost. Isabelle, an elder hosting an alien journalist creating a podcast about the fleet and Sawyer, a grounder who comes to the Exodan fleet to experience the experience the Exodan way of life.
My feelings on the characters are mixed – I’ve found Chambers previously to write excellent characters, but here they fell down a bit for me. I thoroughly enjoyed some of the characters – Kip and Eyas had excellent character arcs and Eyas role in the colony was interesting, and thought provoking. But I found other arcs less convincing. Tessa’s storyline was predictable and the plot of the story hinged on the reader sympathising with Sawyer, which I never really did. Where Chambers has always been able to convince me to care in the past, I didn’t find myself particularly invested in Tessa, Isabelle or Sawyer especially here. And it’s a big reason the book didn’t work as well as her previous ones have for me.
I also felt the plot was almost non-existent here. It has not been an issue in the past, but with nothing happening until about 70%, and the book relying on me feeling sympathy I didn’t, everything just didn’t come together as well as it has in previous books. The quite introspection and observation of Exodan life was interesting, but it couldn’t sustain four hundred pages without me wondering when something would happen.
I really love this series, and while this wasn’t my favourite I still liked it. Kip and Eyas were great characters and their chapters thrilled me where others did not. Once again, Chambers worldbuilding was excellent and her utopian vision of the future was such a pleasure to read. I enjoy the wholesome peacefulness of these books and would come back just for that. The addition of a podcast section was also interesting, and a fun stylistic choice, especially in terms of the audiobook production. Sidenote: I did listen to the audiobook and I really liked it!
For me, the characters just couldn’t hold up the meandering plot. The plot also hinged on the audience experiencing sympathy for one character, which I personally never really felt, probably due to the characterisation of said character not entirely convincing me to invest.
I really love this series, and would recommend it to people looking for a soft sci-fi and book with a hopeful vision of the future. Although this book wasn’t my favourite, I am so looking forward to whatever Chambers comes out with next.
until next time!