Review by Mamma Bear
When forced to volunteer for a daring new mission, Kanti and his friends discover the hardships they left behind might just be the least of their troubles...
Small World is the sequel to Skeleton Crew, and picks up where book one left off. Kanti and his mate have settled into their new life, and everything looks peachy for our rascally hero until the Krakun commissioner shows up with vengeance on his mind. Suddenly, Kanti, Tish, and forty-eight other unlucky souls are volunteered for a new mission, as part of the commissioner's cleaning crew back on his home world of Krakuntec. The job is a one-way trip, and before they know it, the mission crew is thrust into a toxic environment, cramped conditions, and deplorable circumstances.
The primary conflict in book two is more a series of unfortunate events and emergencies. It's a book about survival and a community that has to come together and solve their most basic problems, not the least of which is how to get along with one another. There is plenty of tension and action, but I missed having a solid rising arc and central protagonist a little. Because Kanti is no longer our only POV character, I found myself less embedded in his story, and on a few occasions, siding with other characters against him. Neither of these facts made the book less enjoyable, but it did make the final conflict at the end of the book seem a bit abrupt to me. And though I don't mind a cliffhanger, I felt like the end of the book was a bit unsatisfying, being more a lead-in to the next book, and a whole new problem, than any resolution to the issues in the plot at hand.
The way the world uses scale is unique and fun, though I did wish, particularly in book two's setting, that the size differences had been played up even more. It does affect the plot, but with tiny characters living in a giant's apartment, it felt a little bit like a missed opportunity to really have fun with scale.
That being said, Luterman's writing is smooth and engaging and his characters are delightfully individual. I became quickly caught in the story and read straight to the end rather than put it down. It's at the same time light and horrific, whimsical and tragic, and I am very much looking forward to the next installment. If you enjoy endearing characters, mischief, survival situations, and space opera, and you don't mind a bit of a cliffhanger, Small World is definitely a must-read.