A Psalm of the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
A Monk and Robot Book
A Psalm of the Wild-Built by Hugo Award-winning author Becky Chambers was named Best Book of the Year by NPR. It’s optimistic and beautiful, and gives hope for our own future. The descriptions are poetic while taking minor jabs at the failures of today’s society. A Psalm of the Wild-Built is thought-provoking and philosophical, and characters are engaging.
On a planet similar to Earth, humans created robots to work in their factories, same as we did. But when those robots became self-aware, humanity and robots parted ways peacefully, and humanity changed for the better. It is the beginning of new chapter for humanity, in which they become a better species.
Sibling Dex is a monk who is dissatisfied with their vocation. They decide to self-teach as a tea monk, traveling the country, meeting new people, and seeking out elusive crickets, whose song they’ve only ever heard about. But after two years and no sign of crickets, Sibling Dex is still craving something more from life. It’s been 200 years since humans have seen a robot, and the world has managed a careful balance of technology and nature.
Dex decides to veer off the normal route and head into the unknown, and meets Splendid Speckled Mosscap, a wild-built robot. It has come to check on humanity and find out what humans need. It asks Dex to be its guide, to travel with it and help it answer its question. Which is the exact opposite of what Dex wants to do. They had just decided to head to the Hart’s Brow Hermitage located within a protected wilderness zone because cloud crickets once lived there. Mosscap offers to go with Dex if they will tell the robot all it needs to know about human customs on the two-week journey. They set out on the adventure together.
Along the way, Dex confesses their dilemma of feeling unsatisfied with life. “What is wrong with me that I can have everything I could ever want and have ever asked for and still wake up in the morning feeling like every day is a slog?” Readers can relate to that feeling – that subtle craving. That hollow ache for something more, and the guilt that inevitably follows. It also discusses death and its opposite – immortality. It asks if we have to have a purpose in life to exist.
A Psalm of the Wild-Built is like a river, light in some places, deep in others, but absolutely worth the trip. The ending is perfection. It is a delightful first book in the new aptly-titled series, Monk and Robot.
Another Monk and Robot book, A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, debuts July 12, 2022. It picks up just after the events in Psalm of the Wild-Built. Both audiobooks are narrated by Em Grosland, who brings Sibling Dex and Splendid Speckled Mosscap to life. I highly recommend both versions of the books.
Visit the author’s website.
A Psalm of the Wild-Built editor credit: Lee Harris.
A Psalm of the Wild-Built cover art credit: Feifei Ryan.
A Psalm of the Wild-Built cover design credit: Christine Foltzer.
Audiobook narrated by Em Grosland.