ARC Review: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I did an ARC review on my blog (and a while since a book captured my attention as much as this one if I’m honest!)

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within is the fourth book in the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers, but it can be read as a standalone. I think reading The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet helps with the scene setting though. Firstly, can we talk about the cover? This series has amazing covers but this one is probably my favourite.

Star rating: 5 stars

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within follows a small number of characters: Pei, a cargo runner we have met in previous books, Speaker, who becomes separated from her sister for the first time during a technological failure, and Roveg, an exiled artist. They are thrown together during the technological failure, stuck with their host Ouloo and her son Tupo.

Like the other books in the series, the world and culture building of alien species is really, really rich. Becky Chambers thinks of everything – from approach to gender to parenthood to biology, Becky has it covered. This book brings together those culture differences more than the others, with the central characters having different perspectives on the world they live in. None of the characters are human, which makes for some really funny jokes for a human reader.

I put this book up with my favourites of all time. Each book in the series brings something different – this one has really special characters who I loved so much that the book made me happy cry in a few places. I really like that Becky gave each one time to tell their story, and made sure the end was satisfying and complete.

Overall, a stunning final book in the Wayfarers series. I am so sad it is over, given that the world is so huge there could be so much more. I am really excited to see what Becky’s new series will be like though! Thanks Hodder and Stoughton for the review copy through NetGalley, this was honestly such a treat.

Have you read any books by Becky Chambers? If you want sci-fi that is character driven and brings out plenty of emotions, this is absolutely the series for you. You can read my Spotlight post to find out about the other Wayfarers books!

Spotlight: Becky Chambers

“The only way to really appreciate your way is to compare it to somebody else’s way. Figure out what you love, specifically. In detail. Figure out what you want to keep. Figure out what you want to change. Otherwise, it’s not love. It’s clinging to the familiar–to the comfortable–and that’s a dangerous thing for us short-term thinkers to do. If you stay, stay because you want to, because you’ve found something here worth embodying, because you believe in it. Otherwise…well, there’s no point in being here at all, is there?”

Science fiction is always very hit and miss for me – sometimes it’s too technical, sometimes it misses the character-driven aspects of fiction that I love. Then I discovered Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series and I fell in love with the quiet plots, fascinating character stories and the cultures of entirely new imaginary species that are so detailed they could be real.

There are 3 books to date in the series, with a fourth to arrive in 2021. They can be read in any order, but I chose to read in order of publication. The first is The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, which I have now read twice. It focuses on Rosemary, a young girl who is looking to escape her past by joining a long-haul spaceship where the crew is made up of multiple species. The second is A Closed and Common Orbit, which takes the AI from book one, Lovelace, and puts her in a body kit. Lovelace becomes Sidra, and the book centres on her friendship with Pepper, whose past is explored alongside the main plot. The Third book is a Record of a Spaceborn Few, which may have my favourite quote ever written in it. It follows a group of humans born in Space who live on Fleet – a very large space platform that houses the descendants of humans that left Earth behind. The characters are at different stages of their lives – a mix of parents and children.

What I love about Becky Chambers is the diversity she brings to her characters, whether through culture, gender or sexuality. It is so interesting to read about the cultures and worlds she creates because they are incredibly detailed and unique, without being over-complicated. The plot in each book is quiet which allows the character journeys to shine.

These books have made me laugh and cry and I empathised with many of the characters – particularly Rosemary from The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and Kip from Record of a Spaceborn Few. Everyone feels a bit lost at times and Becky captures that emotion beautifully. They also have beautiful covers. I highly recommend reading them, and I can’t wait to read Becky’s novella: To Be Taught if Fortunate.

Let me know if you loved these books just as much as I did!