Review│Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1)

ancillary justiceAuthor: Ann Leckie // First published:  January 2013 // Genre: Science Fiction
This edition: 386 pages, published in October 2013 by Orbit // Get it @TheBookDepository

Read in April 2015

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

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 the Justice of Toren – a colossal starship and an artificial intelligence controlling thousands of 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. But that might just be enough to take revenge against those who destroyed her.

My thoughts

I am… confused. I’m not sure what I think of this book. On the one hand I kept going back to it and wanted to read more, but on the other hand I don’t think that I really understood what was going on.

The most obvious particularity of the book is the fact that gender does not matter in the language of the book. You can be male or female, you will be referred to as she/her. This can be tricky because at first I imagined each character to actually be female, but you realise along the way that it is something that the language of the character does not discriminate against, but that gender does exist, and some other tongues of the people in the book have the male/female distinction. It becomes somewhat of a challenge for the main character to know how to properly address someone in their language and with the appropriate gender.
What we quickly realise is that gender does not matter. Male, female, white, black; those things don’t really have any relevance in the world, what matters is whether you are a citizen or not, or if you are human or ancillary.

Our main character is an ancillary. Hundreds of her used to exist and “make up” a ship (I don’t know how else to say it… she was the ship, wasn’t she?), but after an event (a rebellion?), she is the only one of her who remains.

And this is where it all got too much for me. All the politics of the Radch, who is who, what their purpose is… I have no clue. She wants revenge because her ship has been destroyed, okay. But I wasn’t able to pinpoint the specificities of the story, who betrayed whom, etc.
I think this is primarily my fault as I really wasn’t in a clear frame of mind when I was reading this book (heavy anti-allergy medication can do wonders to make your brain go mushy), and the complicated names didn’t help (they never do to be honest).

Something I did notice and appreciate was the writing. The main character is an ancillary, basically some sort of artificial intelligence, and the fact that she is not human is very well reflected in the way she expresses herself. She picks up on emotions based on someone’s facial expression, she says things like “it took her 3 seconds too much to be considered genuine”, etc. Everything is very analytical, and I guess this is something that you can expect from an AI.

My rating:

I’ll give Ancillary Justice 3.5/5 stars. I can see the foundations of something solid and interesting, I just don’t think I picked it up at a right time for me to appreciate everything.

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