As a standalone sequel, A Closed and Common Orbit did well to outline the setting. I think new readers would be able to understand things just fine. At the same time, it further expanded the world building for those who’ve read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. The characters remained central to the plot of A Closed and Common Orbit as well, thereby justifying the slow pacing.
As much as I enjoy summer reads, predictability tends to be one strike against them. The Honey Farm on the Hill was no exception. I saw nearly every twist coming chapters ahead of them — from Nell’s discoveries about her long lost love to the mystery of disappearing bees to the resolution. Not much about the plot surprised me. Yet, I quite liked this book for the setting, the characters and the relationships.
Food writer travels through Tuscany on a bulldozer — such a bizarre and hilarious image this premise painted. It sounded so ludicrous and I have to admit, it made me think of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. That set the bar of absurd humour unfairly high but I couldn’t help it. Perhaps it’s a good thing then, that My Italian Bulldozer wasn’t filled with tall tales, even if that slightly disappointed me.
My problem with space operas is that usually not much happens besides the characters floating through space. On that front, I felt The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet fit squarely fit that trope. Conflicts outside of the spaceship didn’t arise as often nor as intensely as I had liked, even with their unpredictable mission and the threat of war looming. The reason I enjoyed this book anyway were the characters. They were absolutely wonderful!