A Review of: A psalm for the wild built, by Becky Chambers

This was a super fun little novella. I really enjoyed the idea, and the story.

However, not the first time in my experience with this author: the book ends right when it’s just getting started. It’s more of a sample ”first third” or an actual book. Yes, I know it is a novella, and we all know I dislike novella’s because they’re short – that you barely get into the story, and it’s over. But in this case – it isn’t that it’s short, it’s that it incomplete feeling. A real disappointment. [I see there is a second installment to this ‘series’, but I am loathe to read it, because I expect it will probably just be the second third of a full book. And it really annoys me to need to buy three books to get one story, that should have rightfully just been one book. Grr!]

**spoilers ahead**

Anyway…. It’s a story in a different place than earth, where robots that had been manufactured for factory work, then replacing jobs that humans didn’t want to do… became sentient. After a while the robots and the humans part ways amicably. The robots retreat to a part of the planet, that has been designated as Wild, where humans don’t generally go. [This planet remembers back to when the humans destroyed the earth. Now on this planet, they do not touch half of it, preserving it’s integrity; and only inhabit (respectfully) the other half. ]

Our main character, Dex, takes a path of life called Tea Monk. They travel from community to community, to offer support [and tea], to any who needs it. We spend the first portion of the story learning how they learned Tea Monk-ing, and how they excel at it, etc.

But they’re obsessed with the idea of hearing crickets. Eventually, Dex decides to (foolishly) leave the human roads, and strike off towards a long abandoned monastery, located out in the wild. [there might be crickets there, there once was.] Traveling roads that haven’t been touched for many generations. Foolish. The roads are almost un-travelable, there are wild animals, there is no link to the real world (ie: what goes for cellular service) and no one knows Dex has left the roads.

The first night camping, Dex is approached by a robot. They’re essentially mythical creatures, as it has been centuries since anyone ‘saw’ one. Dex is dumbfounded, and also annoyed. Dex wants to be alone.. but also not to be rude. Then a bear arrives, and scares the crap out of Dex. Dex then decides it’s ok for the robot to join them. Since they know the wild.

The robot, Mosscap, was on a mission to go check on the humans. They still want to be alone, but they decided they out to see how the humans were doing without them? But now, Mosscap will journey with Dex to the monastery, then Dex hopes to part ways.

Mosscap is very curious and interested in all that Dex says and does. And despite Dex’s initial reaction, they’re curious about Mosscap too – after all it has been centuries since humans and robots interacted.

The journey to the monastery takes a few days. When they get there, Dex realizes nothing has changed. But the answers they seek must come from within. Mosscap offers some good advice.

Then it ends. Just when we are getting to the meat of the story! So frustrating.

I really enjoyed this story, what there was of it. But being so desperately incomplete, I can not recommend, unless you like being left hanging , and having to make up the rest of the book in your head.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Thoughts:

• Story pacing?

Slow and steady 7/10

• Story character arcs?

Incomplete. Both Mosscap and Dex. There’s so much more to know. 3/10

• Story arc?

Incomplete. 0/10

• Story writing quality?

Only a part of a story. So while the writing itself is perfectly fine and enjoyable…. Poor for publishing a section of a book and calling it complete. 0/10

• Story wokeness? ( tolerable / gag me)

Story tries to teach us to stop pillaging the only earth we have. (feels a little preachy.) Has sentient robots. (interesting). And non binary main character. 5/10 because a little preachy, but use of interesting characters, but without being check list about it.

• Grates against my annoyances?

Being ripped off with a partial story. 0/10

• Grates against my annoyances? (fictional words)

Nothing I recall, so A+ there. 10/10

• Story romance level?

None, which is perfect. 10/10

• Story readability?

Easy, enjoyable reading…. 8/10

• Story Completeness (did it end on a cliff hanger, or a see my next book!)?

not complete 0/10

• Did the story cover familiar ground, or go new places?

While sentient robot are not ‘new’, it still felt like a new idea, and uncovered ground. 9/10

• Was there anything I wanted to know that was left unanswered?

Yes, the rest of the story/character arc, obviously. 0/10

• Things I really liked / or didn’t like?

Half. A. book. 0/10

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