I received a digital advance reader’s copy (ARC) of A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
I read the first book in this series last year and loved it, so I was delighted to get an advance copy of this new one!
In A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, Sibling Dex, a tea monk, and Mosscap, a robot, have become the best of friends. But Mosscap has sought out humanity for a reason beyond friendship—to learn what humans need, from robots and in general. So Dex and Mosscap venture out of the wilderness and back into human civilization, traveling to various towns and meeting scores of people in an effort to learn new things and make new connections.
This story continues the first book’s format of being mostly about mood, atmosphere, and characters rather than any fast-paced, high-stakes plot. There’s little action, as the entire theme of the story is about connection between people. So don’t read this if you prefer plot-driven stories, and while I do enjoy those too, sometimes something like this is just perfect for me.
Dex and Mosscap continue to be such fantastic characters. They’re witty and thoughtful and have such an endearing rapport with each other. I enjoyed getting to see how their interactions were affected by other people, and how Dex had to become sort of a guide for Mosscap through the human world. I thought the way Dex’s conflicted feelings about purpose and passion, and what they are meant to do, was presented really well. And Mosscap’s mission to learn about the needs of humanity was excellent.
Ultimately, this book tackles the way constantly serving others can create imbalance in a person’s life, or cause them to neglect their own needs. Empathy and service, while vital and valuable things, can also become draining if people aren’t willing to receive those things in turn. It’s such a compassionate message about being allowed to need things and being allowed to rest.
Another beautiful thing in this book is the casual, but still very present, examples of characters who do not fit neatly into either “male” or “female” categories. This being normalized and treated with such easy acceptance is so nice to see. Honestly, people in our society make way too big a deal about being masculine or feminine, and this book shows that we really don’t need that. We can all just dress how we want, use whatever words we want to describe ourselves, and just be.
In the end, A Prayer for the Crown-Shy is fantastic, a brilliant continuation in this series. The main characters will forever delight me, and the new characters they encounter are engaging and often fun. The themes are spectacularly presented, and the setting is vivid and stunning. It’s a contemplative piece of fiction that is so tender and optimistic, and I loved it!
A Prayer for the Crown-Shy will be published on July 12th, 2022!