14 January 2015

Off the Cliff: A Review of Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie

"You do realize that the protagonist is a battle-ship". This fantastic statement was uttered deadpan by moi less than 24hrs ago as the hubby was trying to discuss the fate of our furnace and the decreasing drop in temperature both in and outside our house. When you are three quarters through a novel that you have unfortunately been reading too quickly and are about to reach the denouement, heat is of little consequence, nor really is the basic necessities to life. Thankfully the heat came on, I was uninterrupted in my binge read-a-thon and the sequel sits in the stack by the bed; all is right in this girl's world. 

And so here we go again with another aggressively addicting series that has spellbound my brain, throwing me off the cliff of imagination, inspiring me to completely lose it on Thank the Maker. Like a good little space opera lemming I have succumbed to all that is right and confusing that is Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justices was the "it" book of 2014. It won everything. Everyone read it. I was not everyone. Slow on the uptake, never completely engaged with the happenings of the SF publishing world, adopting a lazier approach to the must read recommendations, preferring personal choice over popular sentiment, I neglected Ancillary Justice. What the hello was I doing all last year? (right, right, right, having an affair).  


Breq, the last ancillary of Justice of Toren, a two thousand year old sentient battle-ship for the Radchie Empire is on a vengeful quest. Wanting not to crouch on spoiler alert territory, I find myself struggling with what to type next, reveal just a little to inspire you to read the novel or allude to awesomeness, avoiding reading sabotage? I love surprises, especially when an author takes me on an unanticipated journey, revealing key plot points by twisting the conventional. Ann Leckie's AI sentient ancillary protagonist is the only means by which the reader is introduced to the Radchian universe.  Written in the first person narrative, Ancillary Justice has lost many a fan because of it's seemingly simple, conversational tone.  It is an easy read and while that may seem insignificant, no author or reader wants a novel to appear elementary, when in fact it is a multi-layered, successful, world-building, piece of art. (It is at this point, that I have decided to lose it.) I enjoy the boundaries that the first person narrative creates. As a reader, I delight in the not knowing, having to rely solely on the story that the protagonist is telling, finding, as the novel unfolds what is the truth. I also like aliens, alien mentality and the inability to predict alien perceptions, because it is an alien. Call me what you will, space opera slut/junky/nutter, I just love me a book that unnerves my humanity. 

Having decided to allude to awesomeness I realize I haven't provided much in terms of a review guide. As with Seeds of Earth, Ancillary Justice is SF. If you are rather shy about a race of aliens called Rrrrrrr or the main character a battle-ship, animating the body of a prisoner who was frozen for future ancillary work, then this might not be your cup of tea. However if you were ever going to give space opera a try, why not read the "it" book of 2014 and discover how crazy SF can so wonderfully be.