Review: A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT by Becky Chambers

Page Count: 160
Release Date: July 13th, 2021
Series: MONK & ROBOT, Book 1
Rating: 4/5 Stars – Really Liked It

Sibling Dex is at a crossroads in their life. They’ve taken up the calling of a tea-service monk, a person who travels from village to village, offering comfort and tea to anyone who wants it. If you need a shoulder to cry on, a person to vent to, or a quiet corner to meditate, Dex is ready with tea and a willing ear. But Dex can’t help but feel that their life is still missing something. But when they make an impulsive decision to take a new route, they didn’t expect to come across a robot, something no one has seen in two centuries. One day the robots woke up and decided to leave humanity to figure out their own existence, and they’ve been gone ever since. But this robot has come in search of what they think is a straight-forward question: What does humanity need?

A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT is one of those books where not a lot happens, yet you still feel utterly content after reading it. Becky Chambers, queen of “slice of life” sci-fi, manages to perfectly capture an emotional state that I think many can identify with: that sense that nothing is really “wrong” with your life, and yet you still feel like it is lacking something. You go through the motions with your job, wondering why there’s an emotional hole that never quite fills. Chambers is just excellent at somehow snaring an emotional essence and distilling it into her writing, and I identified with Dex in a way I haven’t with other characters for a while.

Chambers also excels at creating idyllic visions of the future, where on the whole people are decent and humanity has figured out some big picture questions like how to best live in balance with the environment. This aspect is part of what contributes to the cozy feel of A PSALM FOR THE WILD BUILT. The conflict doesn’t come from other people, it comes from the characters wrestling with existential questions that are plaguing them. Dex and their eventual robot acquaintance cover a lot of topics as they converse, always in a way that feels natural and not like a textbook analysis of a problem. This little novella offers food for thought about ecology, personhood, the importance of comfort, and more, all within a conversation between two characters.

A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT is an intimate story of one person’s journey through the wilderness seeking answers. It’s quiet but never dull, and easily flies by in an afternoon. It’s a perfect escape from our chaotic world and offers a hopeful glimpse of a world that doesn’t have all the answers, but gives you the space to try and find them on your own.

Note: I was provided a free ARC of the book by the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.

6 thoughts on “Review: A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT by Becky Chambers

Add yours

  1. It’s great to see that you enjoyed it, but my real question is: is it worth $11? That’s the price for the kindle version (which seems a bit steep for 160 pages, but…)


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