Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ll reserve the right to update this review, because I’m not quite finished yet, but it’s taken me several months to get through 70% of the book and I’m usually a pretty quick reader. That’s a pretty definite sign that it’s failing to engage me.

It’s interesting, though, because the book is good. It’s unique and has an interesting world. I was excited when I first cracked it open, completely blind, and by chapter two I had learned that the main character is a 19 year old female, who is also a 2000 year old ship, and the sentence “She was probably male” appeared. I thought to myself ‘I better not drink alcohol while reading this one…’

I had no problem following the narrative, even though it was disjointed and jumped around a lot. I even had a bit of fun deciphering what the actual genders of the characters probably were. What I had problems with was giving a damn about what happened.

The plot is slow, and you spend roughly 50% of the book following the main character doing something without knowing what it is or why, and history is slowly revealed in flashback. By the halfway mark you’ve got a grasp on what the plan is (such as it is), but you had to kind of slog your way there without anything to really latch on to. The main character is also relatively flat and robotic—probably quite deliberately, since it’s an AI—but that makes it even harder to invest in. The character agency doesn’t really click and things just seem to sort of happen without a lot of foreshadowing or anticipation. Many things are literally happenstance and the character even reflects on how random and/or pointless it is. As a reader, you wonder why you’re being forced to read through it if even the main character thinks it’s pointless, which is just a big ol’ Chekov’s gun, because if it ends up being actually pointless in the end, you just wasted an awful lot of words in this book, and if it ends up being super important despite the character’s perception of it being useless, there goes any sort of surprise when things finally play out. Even once the entire plot is revealed, the goals don’t make a perfect amount of sense, and it’s handwaved away by the main character when addressed.

It could be that it ties together more over the course of the series, but I’m not sure that I’m invested enough to continue to the next book. Which is a shame because I do really like the uniqueness of it.

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About tagracat
I am not a professional, I don't get paid to review shit, I am just opinionated and I seem to have some sort of disorder that results in spewing my opinions onto the internet. I enjoy writing long-winded posts about things and sometimes I like to pretend people want to read them, so a blog seemed an appropriate place to stuff it. But mostly I just like writing about things.

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