A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers is a sci-fi novella that I’ve been hearing a lot about. It is set to be the first of the Monk and Robot series. I’m not sure how to summarize this one so here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth 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’ new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?
This is one of those quirky little stories that packs a punch. It’s only a novella but it has a lot to say and a beautiful message. I enjoyed it, I loved the world and the message, but I can’t bring myself to rate it higher than 4 stars, there was just something lacking in the characters for me.
The world is so interesting and I loved the idea of it. The optimistic vision of a world where humans live in peace with the environment and actually limit their footprint to let the wilds grow back was beautiful. I also really liked the idea of the robots awakening and being let to roam free in the wilds. All of this and the discussion around it was so well done and beautiful.
Mosscap is a fantastic character. I loved all of its scenes and watching it learn about humans and interact with Dex. Seeing its reaction and excitement to the little things like sitting in a chair was so sweet, I couldn’t help but smile. I wish this was told in 1st person so I could get even more into Mosscap’s brain but the 3rd person narrative did a great job of describing this wonderful robot.
Dex was really the part of the story that I think fell flat for me. For so much of the book, I felt like I didn’t know anything about them. This started to get better at the end but still, their background/story just felt a little empty. I think this is more a case of my preference as I tend to dislike characters who are totally floundering through life, it’s a common story in books and one I just don’t enjoy.
Overall, I really enjoyed this quirky little story and will probably pick up the next one. Hopefully Dex can get a better grip on things and I’ll start to like them more.