ARC Review: A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT (Monk & Robot #1) by Becky Chambers (2021)

Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Year Release: July 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the publisher
Content warning: Welts, pus, blisters

Centuries ago, the robots walked off their jobs and let the wilds take over. In the current day, Sibling Dex decides they’ve had enough of their duties and decides to fuck off into the wilderness to become a tea monk. After several years, they set off on the road and run into a robot named Mosscap. The two begin a strange friendship built on attempts at understanding that leads to deep conversations about identity, purpose, and the meaning of life.

Kind, philosophical, and full of awareness, this book reads like drinking a cup of tea for self-care.

If your favorite location in NieR: Automata was the forest kingdom and your favorite aspect of that game was the introspection about identity and the meaning of existence, you’re in for a treat with this novella. This work isn’t nearly as heart-breaking. It maintains a firm perspective on how it converses with the evolution of the world. It’s a work that I can truly consider kind, one where humans have relinquished some control to a world overtaken by community and nature.

My favorite scene had to be the one where Dex and Mosscap cook dinner together. The way Chambers threads the philosophy within this kind novella shines here because there are fundamental differences between the two, but with that comes an earnest search for mutual understanding. Neither character has a gender, for example, but each one’s relationship with it is different. None of it is pedantic, which makes for really easy reading.

The setting descriptions were so lush. The world felt the weight of its history, but not with despair. The storytelling and world-building does not coddle but neither does it unnerve or unsettle. I can’t wait to see where this series goes.

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