Book Review: To Be Taught, If Fortunate
I hope you had a nice weekend and start to the week. I’ve been working on yet another lengthy paper for grad school (two in a row, ugh!), so almost all of my spare time has gone to that. Luckily, I finished that last night so I was able to finish my current read. Hooray!
This time around I read the novella To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers.
I actually picked this read at random from what was available at my library digitally. I wasn’t quite ready to tackle my backlog on my Kindle yet, and being a novella I thought this would be an easy read, so I dove right in.
So, how’d it go? Keep on reading, folks!
A stand-alone science fiction novella from the award-winning, bestselling, critically-acclaimed author of the Wayfarer series.
At the turn of the twenty-second century, scientists make a breakthrough in human spaceflight. Through a revolutionary method known as somaforming, astronauts can survive in hostile environments off Earth using synthetic biological supplementations. They can produce antifreeze in subzero temperatures, absorb radiation and convert it for food, and conveniently adjust to the pull of different gravitational forces. With the fragility of the body no longer a limiting factor, human beings are at last able to journey to neighboring exoplanets long known to harbor life.
A team of these explorers, Ariadne O’Neill and her three crewmates, are hard at work in a planetary system fifteen light-years from Sol, on a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds. But as Ariadne shifts through both form and time, the culture back on Earth has also been transformed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the story of the wonders and dangers of her mission, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.
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This is my first time reading a work by this author, and overall it was something of a mixed bag for me.
This novella centers on four astronauts who are travelling through space with a new technology known as somaforming that allows their bodies to adapt better to different environments. Their mission is to visit four habitable exoplanets in deep space, but what surprises will they find along the way?
There were some great elements in this novella and some others that didn’t quite work for me.
One thing I really loved was the concept of somaforming. It was a very unique take on travelling to different worlds, and it works in different ways depending on the planet being visited. The astronauts could simply have a glow to their skin, be made more physically strong, or any other variation you can think of. It was really refreshing.
I also enjoyed the crew and their interactions with each other. The MC Ariadne is very intelligent, curious, and I also liked the fact that she was bisexual/pansexual. It made her more unique, and it didn’t feel forced. She was simply that way.
Her crewmates Jack, Chikondi, and Elena had interesting personalities, and I liked getting to know each of them. Jack is your stereotypical alpha male, Chikondi more of an introvert, and Elena initially hard to read, though she opened up with time.
The premise of this story was really great, and we did get to see some really cool planets and creatures along the way. That being said, this story felt incomplete. For me, it didn’t feel like there was enough conflict throughout to satisfy me. There were a couple twists and turns along the way, but it just wasn’t enough. I also really didn’t care for the ending. It felt abrupt and unsatisfying, and I’m not sure why the author stopped there after all the great lead up.
Overall, this story was entertaining, and while it was a mixed bag, I’d be open to giving another one of her works a shot in the future. If you’re more scientifically minded, this book may be perfect for you. Happy reading!
That’s A Wrap!
Well that’s it for this book review. I hope you enjoyed it!
Have you read this book? Are there other similar books you’ve read that you simply have to gush about? Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to start a conversation!
Have a great day!
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It sounds like Chambers put together a wonderful cast, but maybe didn’t do as well on the plot.
Yeah, I think you really hit the nail on the head there. The characters were great, but I wanted the plot to have more of a sense of danger or an ominous vibe. It kind of drifted after a while.
I know it’s terrible of me, but the title alone makes me not want to read this.
Haha, not at all. A friend asked what I was reading and I said “an interesting sci-fi book with a weird a** title”, lol! The title is from a quote at the end, and I don’t think it really fits the book’s content quite right.