The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet Made Me Furious

long-way-to-a-small-and-angry-planetThis review has taken me ages to write. Partly because I when I finished I couldn’t articulate what I didn’t like about it and why- I was just left with a string of letters for feelings that went something like this:

Arrggggggregjejgkldrjjjsnbsnkbgjgerjgw

On the surface level, there were loads of reasons to dislike this book. For starters, the plot is lacking and the characters were lousy. Take Rosemary for instance- supposed to be the life and soul of the story- but half the time she’s a bit of a dishcloth (too shy to have a personality) and the next she’s a badass super intelligent flirt- not that the second would have been such a bad thing, but there was no consistency, so it felt a bit like she kept having a personality transplant.

But plenty of other people have criticised the book for those reasons. What really bothered me was something else entirely.

Now I really struggle to enjoy books that ram their message down my throat– regardless of whether I agree with it. But what I hate more than anything is dumb, lazy messages. This had a bit of both- so let’s go through them:

  • War is bad– yes we can all agree- got anything more nuanced to say? No- ah well, it’s not like there’s thousands of years of human thought on the subject… *head in hands*
  • Anyone can be the villain of a story– when Rosemary’s father is found out to have dealt illegal arms (used to kill a ton of people) the nice “voice of reason” character says that it’s a-okay cos anyone could end up doing wrong without even realising it…. Well that’s wholly pessimistic and just a bit wrong. In reality, you actually have to do a lot of evil stuff before you get the reputation of being evil. Let’s be honest, people that do evil shit have to take responsibility for their actions- Rosemary’s father did something dodgy, end of.
  • It’s alright as long as you’re trying– sometimes that’s a fair point- when you’re not trying to make a moral argument, that is. Because not only is it a naff thing to say, it’s also a cop out to excuse behaviour of people that stand by in the face of evil. I prefer J K Rowling’s attitude of admiring bravery against the odds (to paraphrase some of her interviews). Much more inspiring.
  • There’s no such thing as objective morality- it’s all about perspective. (Ah nice bit of moral relativism to brighten up the day) To illustrate this, there is a scene where some alien thieves take their stuff and punches one of them in the face- but it’s all right because of their background. Violence and theft is totally excusable for some people/aliens- and that’s because they just don’t know better! If that isn’t the soft bigotry of low expectations I don’t know what is. In my book- if you treat people like they don’t have to abide by certain rules, because they’re just not capable of adhering to the same moral standards, then that’s bigoted. Oh and to top it all off, one of the characters explains that they accidentally offended one of the thieves, so actually they deserved to get hit. So *obviously* it’s your fault if the crooks aren’t nice and peaceful- you must have unknowingly offended them. Plus offence taking is always an excuse to get violent people!
  • Reptile sex is cool. I know what she’s getting at but seriously, as a metaphor for inclusivity and integration, this is a bit shit. Because this is basically bestiality and reptile sex is categorically not sexy. And if that makes me “specieist” then so be it- cos as far as I’m aware bestiality is still a crime. It doesn’t matter if you tell me it’s attractive- I have to feel it. And while we’re on the subject of the romance- why do they have to sit around and discuss their feelings- sounds like an awful lot like the negotiations in 50 shades and that’s also categorically not romantic
  • Oh and don’t help people with depression– there’s a nice metaphor about letting people die if they want to- so that’s nice… I guess? This is a new idea that’s been gaining popularity among people that know absolutely nothing about psychology. Apparently some people think that getting rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness means normalising it so that treatment no longer becomes necessary… cos that’s a good idea :/ In all seriousness, seeking help is often one of the hardest things for someone with a mental illness to do- in fact so often not being able to see that they need help is a symptom. It’s *not helping* to say “ah well, that’s just their reality, leave them to it”.

All of this ideological bullshit gets in the way of the story- which explains why there isn’t one for 90% of the book.

Rating: 1 measly banana

half banana

So yeah- I clearly hated this- but I know a lot of people feel very differently. *I want to hear your opinions*. Have you read this? Did you love it or loathe it? Let me know in the comments!

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57 thoughts on “The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet Made Me Furious

  1. JJAzar says:

    I haven’t read this book, though I have seen it floating around the WordPress bubble. Regardless, I enjoyed reading your picking apart of the book’s messages. The last message probably irks me the most. Accepting others as they are is important, but being passive regarding others when their behavior or habits are destructive, whether they be self- or otherwise, is not a good thing. I’m down to read a book with any sane message, but if the message(s) are going to be so overt and high-brow, I won’t bother.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Donna says:

    I haven’t read it but now I don’t want to. Your last point especially made me very angry. I wonder what went wrong for the book to deliver such messages? I don’t see the point in reading it now. Fab and honest review!

    Liked by 2 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ahh yes- that bit really got under my skin cos I’ve seen a few people making that argument now- and it’s not cool with me. I don’t ever wanna stop people from reading something they might enjoy, even if I didn’t, but I have to be honest that being hammered over the head with messages like this really irritated me. Thank you! 🙂

      Like

  3. MyBookJacket says:

    This was one of my favourite books this year! 😂😂😂 so naturally I’m sad that you didn’t enjoy it but I totally see your point. The reptile sex portion was weird for me too but I just thought I was old fashioned and should be more open to…..okay I’m never going to be open to it. Lol. Interesting points and I never thought of them so this is definitely food for thought.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Nicola Alter says:

    What an entertaining review! I haven’t read this (hadn’t even heard of it before) but it sounds like an infuriating read. I also have trouble with books that feel like they’re preaching simplistic, obvious messages at me, especially if the morals/messages are depressing or disturbing ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      haha yeah this one was really popular- I wish someone had warned me- I really struggle with this kind of alien sex stuff- it’s just weird! (it’s the one thing in sci fi I’m never gonna get on board with) But I also don’t want to discourage you from reading something you might like 😉

      Like

  5. daleydowning says:

    These are all valid points (don’t worry, I won’t be jumping on you after our earlier discussion) 😉

    Reptile sex would certainly make me give this book up, too – unless of course it was limited to other reptiles. Authors have to be really careful with this sort of thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lilyn G. (Sci-Fi & Scary) says:

    I loved the book. I liked the part where the captain was willing to respect Ohan’s (sp? – I listened to the audio book, didn’t read it, so I’m unsure on character names) beliefs and his intent to die when it was his time. (Which is kind of funny now that I think about it, as I’m an atheist.)

    I liked the negotiations between Rosemary and Sissex because it laid things out very, VERY clearly and my personality appreciates that. I don’t like uncertainty, so knowing exactly what to expect due to one of those conversations is perfect.

    As for the alien bumping of uglies, I didn’t take it as sexy, or with the intent to be sexy, I just accepted the cross-species intercourse as part of a new system with diverse life and that was that.

    Rosemary totally was a dishcloth, definitely agree!!

    Interesting to see different viewpoints! You’ve made me think about the story in a new light. (I still love the story, but I can see some of your points.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ah well to each their own- it really wasn’t for me- and I’m not religious in the slightest. I think respecting his right to die because he had something akin to depression was a serious problem for me.
      I get that- personally, I like my fiction to be a bit more unrealistic and just show what’s gonna happen not tell it- and also to be honest I don’t like conversations in real life like that either- so that was never going to be my thing!!
      Yeah I get that- but it got my hackles up a bit cos I don’t like comparing diversity to aliens… not for me! (I struggle with aliens in sci fi in general to be fair)
      haha yes!!
      No problem- that’s good that you still love it- we all have different tastes!! I’m glad you enjoyed it, even if I didn’t!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. NeverSeenANevergreen says:

    I basically echo Lilyn’s thoughts. I agree with you on Rosemary being bland then not and was thrown by that scene as well. I also agree there wasn’t really a plot to the whole story but I was entertained so that didn’t bother me much. I didn’t find the book as preachy about morality as I was reading it, but now that you have mentioned it I can see it. For me, the ‘lizard sex’ wasn’t really an issue mostly because they were able to clearly communicate with each other and for lack of a better word are ‘sentient’ beings, but I can understand why not everyone would like to read that sort of thing.

    What I love most is that we can all be adults about our opinions and not devolve into yelling messages and name calling at each other over this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ahh I can understand all that 🙂 and yeah the lizard sex thing is one of my big no-nos in sci fi- a lot of people are cool with alien sex in general (which is fine, to each their own) but reptilian creatures and sex? nope! Can’t deal! 😉
      Yes absolutely- everyone’s entitled to their opinion- and just cos I didn’t like this doesn’t mean someone else won’t! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • NeverSeenANevergreen says:

        I mean, that situation didn;t get much analysis in my brain because I was trying too hard to digest the sudden change in Rosemary and not what was actually happening. That is really my biggest criticism with the story: it took place over such a long time but it didn’t go into too much depth on the situations that I wanted it to or really show how and why the characters (mostly just Rosemary) changed over time.

        Liked by 1 person

        • theorangutanlibrarian says:

          Ah yes her personality shift gave me whiplash- I really really didn’t get what was going on. I didn’t feel like the author showed she changed over time, because she was just suddenly different- there was no conflict or growth. One minute she was shy, the next she wasn’t. And like you said, it didn’t go into depth about situations. Too much of the character “growth” was based around pseudo-intellectual conversations that didn’t really go anywhere. But I can see why your biggest problem was with characterisation- a lot of reviews I read said similar things and I definitely had the same issues (in the end I decided not to make that the focus of my review cos so many people had said the same things and I felt like I’d go on too long!) sorry for the rambly reply- it seems like I can rant about this book really easily!

          Liked by 1 person

          • NeverSeenANevergreen says:

            Long rambly replies are the best replies, lbr. And I really like your perspective on things as it helps me to think more critically about books I love as well as the ones I don’t like so much. Being able to rant about a book tells you that you were invested one way or another and really I feel like books that evoke emotion, either hate or love are much better then those that are just ‘meh’. Because at least the author made you feel something. (This viewpoint does not really hold water when you start talking about books that are say super racist because that is a whole other level of bad).

            Liked by 1 person

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