Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

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Alright… Ancillary Justice. I felt the buzz about this book before I even really remember hearing concrete things about it, and then when I finally did, those things were good. I can’t resist the idea of an awesome space opera written by a lady, so I grabbed this during a Kindle sale. Here’s the description from Ann Leckie’s website:

“On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was Justice of Toren–a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose–to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.”

I admit it – I was REALLY confused in the beginning. New words and phrases were just kind of thrown out there and it took me a long time to kind of get the flow. I feel like the world-building could have been a tad more clear. Either that, or I’m just the type that really needs things spelled out for me. Also, Justice of Torren/Breq doesn’t understand gender, and I guess Radchaai citizens don’t use gendered pronouns… another cool idea, but I feel like it could have been done differently. It’s a fun concept, but it made trying to picture people in my head confusing and distracting. On the plus side, I guess if you’re going to use all of one pronoun, it’s nice to pick the female pronoun for a change. On the downside, I basically pictured everyone in the book as a lady, whether they were or not. I pictured the Lord of the Radch as Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy, but with books, which I’m sure is 1000% inaccurate.

Besides all of that though, this is a great premise. I really love the idea of an entire ship and it’s “soldiers” or ancillaries being one A.I. consciousness, and then one of the ancillaries splitting. Reading “I watched this kid play out side. On the other side of town, I attended the Lieutenant, and downstairs I was doing repairs”, etc was a fun experience, and something totally new to me in fiction. And I can’t help but cheer for Breq. The best part of reading about an A.I. on a mission? Not so many messy emotions. Sometimes, I really just want my characters to get on with things and not be all emotional and dramatic. But that doesn’t mean that the characters didn’t earn my sympathy or attention. Once I understood the gist of what was happening, I was in it. I felt connected to Breq and her quest.

Soooo book is kind of a mind-fuck, and I might have to go back and re-read a few of the earlier chapters, now that I have a better grasp of the terminology and whatnot, but will definitely be reading the second book. I like it when a book messes with my perception and makes my brain think in ways it’s not used to.

“Thoughts are ephemeral, they evaporate in the moment they occur, unless they are given action and material form. Wishes and intentions, the same. Meaningless, unless they impel you to one choice or another, some deed or course of action, however insignificant. Thoughts that lead to action can be dangerous. Thoughts that do not, mean less than nothing.”

Sarah Says: 4 stars

 

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8 comments

      1. Stefanie from So Many Books also wrote about it today here: http://somanybooksblog.com/2015/01/21/playing-with-gender/

        Myself, as I told her, and I’m with you, I’m finding it a complete mind fuck. Also like you, I was, still am (as I’m still reading it), confused by the new words and phrases. I almost wish Leckie had included an appendix…but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop reading this one. I might just take a break, though, before reading the second one.

        One other note: I can’t imagine outlining this…to keep track of all the characters or even the one characters and what she is doing. No wonder she won awards for this. She should have.

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  1. I have been hearing SO much buzz about this book and I really wasn’t sure if I would be into it or not. However we tend to have similar reading tastes so now I think I have to add this one to my list!

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  2. I had a lot of fun appointing genders randomly and seeing what happens. Especially in some storylines in the second book. My buddy read buddy, with whom I read the second book, said that he did not pay any attention to the gender and I think he also took female to be the “default”. (Fun fact: in my native language and in Finnish, there are no gendered pronouns.)

    The second book is an easier read partly because you already know how things work and partly because story flows simpler. It’s also why I didn’t enjoy second book as much, but am very much looking forward to the third (which Ann Leckie just finished writing a few weeks ago if Twitter is correct).

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