* Review copy provided by the publisher... to someone else who kindly let me have it
Published 20th October 2016
I'm reluctant to call it a sequel, because although it is set in the same universe, it follows characters at whom we only got a passing glance during the first book. I thought this would be a problem, I thought that the characters and their relationships in Long Way were the strongest point of the book, and I wanted to see more of them so I started the novel very aware that I wasn't going to see my favourite characters again.
But honestly it didn't matter. After ten pages I was back in the lovely, rich universe Chambers has created and rather than following on from the last book, it takes us in a different direction and allows us to explore her reality from a whole new perspective.
It's hard to explain the premise of the book without hugely spoiling the first one, but I will say that it has the same warmth and joy to the story, and explores the same themes of making your own family, the complexities of gender, diversity and considering other people as people, even if you don't really understand or relate to them. It has such modern values and steers away from cliche and trope at every turn and it's a joy to see where a narrative can be taken when it isn't just pushed lazily along the usual paths. There is also some serious social commentary, including something I read as an unapologetic side eye at the way in which we all know our clothes and luxuries are made by slave children in the developing world, and yet we do nothing about it... because we don't see those people as 'real' people with 'real' lives. Chamber's really has her finger on the social pulse and knows what the more 'modern' reader wants in a book.
One of my workmates described this book as being like 'a literary group hug', and she's totally right. Chambers shows how you can create characters with compassion rather than just to be put through hell for cheap entertainment, and how you can show characters facing difficulties and overcoming obstacles, however awful, and growing as people, rather than spinning into turmoil just so that we as readers can watch the train crash.
I really hope that we get to see the crew from the first book again, but I really think that this book holds it's own with a cast of new characters and very different surroundings, as well as expanding on the world we only got a glimpse of in Long Way.
I can't wait until this comes out, because I can't wait to introduce more Waterstones shoppers to the joys of the Wayfarer universe. If you haven't read Long Way, read it. Then buy and read this when it comes out. You won't regret it. If in doubt come to Waterstones in Newbury and talk to any member of staff who will tell you how much we all love it.
Ok I'll go now. READ IT.