Review: Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm of two minds with this book. I completely understand why this book is winning so many awards, but I think it is a really difficult book to appreciate. The story is told from the perspective of an artificial intelligence that managed a ship and the automated crew aboard that ship, referred to as ancillaries. The author does a superb job of creating the voice of that creature. It is precisely due to this voice, though, that I think many will be put off. One Esk is dispassionate, calculating, and struggles to socialize in a natural way. One Esk's observations of those around are often clinical, measuring the seconds between a verbal prompt and response, or observing facial ticks.

One Esk serves the empire of Radchaai or Radch for short. The Radch is a severe and uncompromising civilization that sees the purity of humanity as an ultimate goal. The Radch has spent millennia performing "annexations" where foreign worlds are either made to submit to the will of the Radch, or annihilated. The people of the Radch observe a system of heirarchy where prominent families maintain influence and power. Those aspiring to improve their station in life look for a more prominent family to offer them clientage.

It is very difficult to empathize or sympathize with any element of this story. It all feels very foreign and unlikable. The concepts presented, however, are incredibly interesting. I believe that if you pick up this book with the understanding that it isn't a typical action packed space opera you will have the right expectations. I do strongly recommend it, but with the reservation that you may appreciate it without enjoying it.

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Jade Mason