Aliens on their Own: The Galaxy and the Ground Within Review

I’ve loved each installment of Becky Chamber’s Wayfarer’s series, with each book shocking me by being better than the last. The final book in the series, The Galaxy and the Ground Within, has lived up to this trend. It is now my favorite book of the whole series. It’s also the most ambitious book in the series. Unlike the first three books, there isn’t a single human POV character to help ground the reader. Instead the story is told from the perspective of two Laru, a Quelin, an Aeluon and an Akarak. All five are trapped at an isolated way station when a satellite collision makes leaving the planet temporarily impossible.

The Characters

I adored each character. Chambers found a way to fully immerse me into their world without a human to explain how these aliens are different from us. Roveg is a Quelin who has been exiled from his home planet for his political beliefs. Speaker is an Akarak, a long misunderstood and exploited species of alien. Pei, the Aeluon, is the closest the reader gets to a touch point, since she appeared in The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet as Captain Ashby’s lover. All three stop for what the expect to be a brief layover at a way station owned by Ouloo, a Laru, and her child Tupo.

One of the most fun aspects of the novel, is that the characters discuss humans from afar. Viewing them as the strange, alien beings. There’s a passage about cheese in particular, which is just incredible. It also really calls out those of use with lactose intolerance.

Humans need a… oh, what is it… it’s something with their stomachs. An enzyme, I think. For digesting milk. Only some Humans produce it naturally. But here’s the thing: they’re all so fucking bonkers for cheese that they’ll ingest a dose of the enzymes beforehand so that the can eat it.

The Galaxy and The Ground Within by Becky Chambers

The Theme

Like all the books in the series, while there is a plot happening to move the story along, the novel is more about the characters and their relationships. The five individuals in this book couldn’t be more different from one another, but over the course of the novel they learn that even if they don’t always agree, they can learn from one another. And possibly even help each other on their journeys.

It’s an unfailingly hopeful novel of the ways relationships can improve our lives and how we can be better together. That’s certainly a message I could us more of in my life.

Have you read the Wayfarer’s series? Let us know what your favorite novel in the series is in the comments or on social media.

Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Voyager for providing us with an eARC to review.