Thursday, 11 June 2015

Review: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus and Arthur C. Clarke Awards.

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

Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.
Star rating: 4.5 stars

So our main character is a troop carrier... a space ship! Well I've never read a book from the POV of an object before, intelligent or not. It was an interesting idea and very well done. Not only was it a star ship, but it also had multiple representations of itself in the form of ancillaries - a collective consciousness (a little like the Borg in Star Trek). This allowed for multiple POVs but from the same person, if that makes sense, which gave us a broader sense of what was going on.

I really liked the writing style. Leckie throws you in to the middle of a story so I felt a little lost at the beginning of the book. The story is purposely ambiguous leaving the reader to draw conclusions on how they ended up at this point in time, technology, politics etc. The beginning was also split between the present time (not ours but theirs) and the past and this too was a little confusing at first. The switch often left me feeling a little disorientated, preferring the present timeline over the past one. But that soon switched as it started to bring clarity to the story. Understanding and clarity came slowly as I progressed through the book until everything clicked in to place and I could no longer remember being confused - it felt like I knew all along what was going on. But during the stage where I didn't always know what was going on, I still really enjoyed it and my enjoyment of it definitely increased as I progressed through the book.

While I've discussed the POV, I haven't discussed the story line as such as it's very difficult to sum up and I don't want to spoil things. This book just has to be read.

It was great to read a science fiction book by a female author - there doesn't seem to be many out there. But this book is more than just Science Fiction. It is very thought provoking especially when it comes to the subject of gender and how it affects how we see people and what we expect of them. There are some big reveals in this book which really made me think.

There are a lot of names to get used to, people, star systems, regions and spaceship names. I could have done with a list to help me at the start.

I found this book very difficult to rate. I was torn between 4 and 5 stars - it had some interesting plot devices but I guess the early confusion needed to be taken in to account however much it was planned for the reader. So I'm settling on 4.5 stars. Looking forward to book 2.

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