Becky Chambers is, at this point, an auto-buy author for me. This new series of novellas promises to be something that is both charming and introspective. A Psalm for the Wild-Built completely was not what I was expecting at all! Keep reading this book review for my thoughts.
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 honor 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?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
A Psalm for the Wild-Built was a lot quieter and softer than I imagined. I enjoyed the way Chambers, in the past, has managed to balance action and introspection. I was expecting much of the same, to be swept away in action and movement which generally is also thoughtprovoking. But, this new series seems to delve more into thoughtful contemplation and friendship. After I re-framed my expectations, I began to sink into this story about humanity, desire, and friendship.
This novella examines and challenges our ideas of choice. Of wondering what our purpose in life is once we have the freedom to choose. About what the value of contentment is, whether we need to have a grand purpose. With all these introspective questions, A Psalm for the Wild-Built is also grounded in friendship. On moments and relationships which will change the very fabric of our everyday lives. The seconds that are momentous and almost earth shattering also balanced with the joy and contentment of quiet mornings.
If you have always loved the ways Chambers explores humanity and purpose, then this new novella series has to be for you. It’s certainly quieter than what you, like me, might have been expecting, but it felt like a meandering spring walk through on unexplored forest past.
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