• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk and Robot #1) by Becky Chambers

Updated: Oct 25

Chambers's slim book explores a man's search for meaning--and how a robot's simple questions about maintaining the status quo might open up a world of new possibilities.

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.

The robots vanished from Panga centuries ago, and accounts of a world where they existed are beginning to feel more and more like folklore.

But tea monk Dex finds himself wandering and yearning--for long-lost crickets' nighttime noises, and for some deep connection he can't quite identify.

When Dex wanders into the forest and encounters a robot, the traditional exchange must occur, of checking in, and the robot asks: What do humans need? Dex can't imagine being able to answer this enormous question, but the robot wonders if the matter is really so complicated after all.

Repeating history that had left living memory was an all-too-human tendency...

Dex is searching for a purpose, for solitude, and for clarity. The robot's appearance and his observations and questions upends many of the ideas Dex had taken for granted about the world and about himself. The wilderness experience and the conversations he shares with the robot shock Dex--but letting go also frees him.

This is a slim book that's full of heart and strange, captivating details of Chambers's imagined world--and of an unorthodox friendship that could save both monk and robot.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Chambers is also the author of the Wayfarers series; click here to read my review of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

If you're interested in books about robots, you might also like the books on the Greedy Reading List Six Great Stories about Robots, Humans and Alien Life, and AI.