Friday, April 15, 2016

Review: Ancillary Justice

I read the opening chapter of Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch)in the Nebula Awards Showcase 2015, and I'd heard a bit about it before that. Since I hadn't read a science fiction novel in a while, and I'm always looking for new authors to read, I decided to give it a try.

It took me a little bit to get into this book. The first couple of chapters were a bit disorienting, since Breq/Justice of Toren's experience of the world is so different from our own, and the politics of the Radch Empire seemed opaque. But as I delved into the story, it really gripped me. It's epic and heart-breaking and mind-blowing like only the best scifi can achieve. I expected the book to be mostly about the world and Breq's unique perspective, but Leckie's story-telling is masterful, and the characters she creates deeply human and touchingly flawed, even when they're AIs.
Leckie does an amazing job of portraying Radchaai as often well-intentioned, even if their entire way of life seems monstrous to us. It's easy to see how seductive their vision of the universe is, and how much it could blind people to the terrible evils they've committed to achieve it. Even the villain is deeply conflicted, suffering from a regret that may be driving her to madness. What's more, the author gives us tantalizing hints at the wider universe, and the deep danger that may or may not be gathering to assault the Radch. 

I loved this book, and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction. It's a true demonstration of how powerful speculative fiction can be. 

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