Goodreads: A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot #1)
Published: 13 July 2021
Genre: Adult SFF
Centuries before, robots of Panga gained self-awareness, laid down their tools, wandered, en masse into the wilderness, never to be seen again. They faded into myth and urban legend.
Now the life of the tea monk who tells this story 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 will need to ask it a lot. Chambers’ series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?
I asked Jess @ Jessticulates to buddy read this with me so I would actually pick this book up. I’m so glad that I finally read my first Becky Chambers book because the hype is real, friends!
TL;DR: It took no more than one chapter for me to realise just how much I would enjoy this book. The characters rapidly grew on me and the story was a soothing read that asked questions that really hit a mark with me. I followed along with parts of the book with the audio, which I would also recommend, and I have a feeling I’ll return to this book often when I’m craving a comforting read.
Um, hello, this was my first book by Becky Chambers and I absolutely loved it? Who knew that a monk and a robot could make me weepy? Who knew that their friendship could be a soothing balm for my tired soul? It only took one chapter for me to love Sibling Dex and my love for Mosscap was pretty much immediate from the instant it comes rushing out of the woods at the most awkward of moments. I just loved everything about this and I can’t wait for more from these two because I would read anything with them in it!
“You keep asking why your work is not enough, and I don’t know how to answer that, because it is enough to exist in the world and marvel at it. You don’t need to justify that, or earn it. You are allowed to just live. That is all most animals do.”
There’s not much of a plot here and the story is very much character-driven. It was partially a “slice-of-life” story that had its share of entertaining, funny and relatable moments. You are kind of thrown into the deep end with the world-building but I honestly didn’t have a hard time picturing Panga, all the different satellite towns, and the wild that lie just beyond the borders of civilization. It’s an unrecognisable world as humans have seemingly learned from their mistakes and actually treat this homeworld with the care that we clearly lack now but it was such a hopeful and positive world full of kindness and so much growth. When Jess said she could picture this playing out like a Studio Ghibli movie in her head, I immediately said YES because that is exactly it and I think the whole vibe of this story is perfectly set up for a Ghibli adaptation.
I think what made me love this story more was how much I connected to Dex’s search for something more. Their feelings of frustration, loss, anger and their questions about life and their purpose reflect many of my own thoughts over the last few years. The situation they found themselves in hit me hard because it echoes almost exactly my own and there was something about reading it on the page that was both like a sucker punch and a salve. I loved the interactions and discussions that Dex and Mosscap had about anything and everything and I had so much fun reading/listening to them share their stories, experiences and perceptions of life. They made the ordinary and the mundane feel not much like that.
“I think there’s something beautiful about being lucky enough to witness a thing on its way out.”
By the time I got to the last chapter, I was feeling particularly weepy because there’s so much wonder, joy and hope in this story and it made my heart very happy. It’s very much a cosy soothing read that I can see myself returning to time and again. It was absolutely wonderful and I would highly recommend it! I can’t wait for more Monk & Robot.
Have you read Gallant or is it on your TBR?