A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers #2) by Becky Chambers
A Closed and Common Orbit (AC&CO) is the second in the Wayfarer series by Becky Chambers. I really enjoyed the first book and was very keen to pick this one up. AC&CO, much like No.1, was a completely unexpected surprise for me. I always feel a little tentative when picking up science fiction, it isn’t my comfort zone I suppose, and the very notion of space opera makes it sound even more daunting, but Becky Chambers manages to create stories about different worlds, different planets, different species and their lives in a way that makes them accessible, heartfelt and compelling.
Firstly, I would mention that although AC&CO takes place in the same universe as A Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet it isn’t really a sequel although it does include one of the characters from the first story. I would say this is more like a spin off that continues the story of Lovelace. It has a different feel to the first. ALWTASAAP was almost like a bunch of mini stories affecting the crew of the Wayfarer as they went on their journey from A to B. AC&CO has a much stronger focus on two main characters and their own journeys of personal discovery and fulfilment.
Secondly, I don’t really intend to focus too much on the plot but to leave that element as a surprise.
Thirdly, if you love a story that relies on great characters then I think you’ll enjoy this as much as I did. Pepper and Lovelace are both wonderful to read about. I won’t deny that Pepper was my favourite, I just couldn’t help myself, her backstory was made of totally horrendous and yet unputdownable compelling reading material. Lovelace also made for some heart wrenching material as she went through her own series of touching and sometimes embarrassing anecdotes. There is also a small but equally likeable supporting cast.
The story is told with alternating chapters from both characters and the chapters jump back and forward between past and present – with both stories sharing some uncanny parallels. What I really enjoyed about this and the first story is Chambers attention to detail. She has a very low key way of developing different worlds and cultures that just make them easy and fascinating to breeze through. Her attention to detail and the way she seamlessly blends it into the story make for one very satisfying complete package.
As I said above, I don’t really want to say too much about the story as it would spoil the read and so I appreciate that this probably comes across as a very short review with not very much to say but I can only say that isn’t a reflection on the book at all. I thoroughly enjoyed this and in fact I thought it was even better than the first in series. A book that makes you feel for the characters, a storyline that hooks you from start to finish and a series that I have no hesitation in recommending.