Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice—Ann Leckie’s debut novel—is about a centuries old computer who now lives in a presumably human body and who is trying to… do something? The synopsis says she’s trying to get revenge. It’s Sci-Fi.
Because I’m looking for that next, sweeping epic to draw me in.
This book is billed as a “Space Opera.” Okay, I like opera, and I’m a fan of space. I like some other space operas. The main reason why I picked this book up is because its virtues were extolled throughout multiple blogs I follow. We’re talking PAGES long reviews, all positive.
But I’ll be upfront—I really dislike the synopsis. It’s too vague and it doesn’t tell me anything is at stake.
I initially stopped partway through chapter 2 as I noticed I was doing that thing where I’m reading, but also daydreaming and not paying attention to any of the things I’m reading. It was about page 10 or so of the sample. It was late at night, so I chalked it up to fatigue and came back a few days later to give it a second chance, mainly because it was so highly regarded.
I stopped again on page 16 AFTER skipping 2 pages that looked like they weren’t going anywhere.
I stopped because chapter two seems to be entirely a flashback chapter, but worse than that it keeps jumping in time and technically also perspective. So I skipped a THIRD page, and finally got somewhere.
But then the sample ended.
Let’s get one thing straight—Leckie is a solid writer when it comes to sentence-craft. Further, the whole first chapter is good.
We start strongly with our Main Character finding the body of a former comerade except, He’s not QUITE dead!So she revives him, all the while on a frozen planet where everyone hates her because she used to be part of ‘The Empire.’
Leckie is also good at world-building—creating a fictional setting apart from the world in which the reader lives—an important part of science fiction. Leckie’s world is very strongly crafted in the opening chapter while never detracting from the plot.
The second chapter is where I run into problems. As I said before it’s a flashback to a time when the main character was helping conquer a planet, but she vacillates between memories of the guy she saved and seemingly random stuff about the world. This is where the world-building gets too much for me, because while I’m waiting for the plot to continue, she’s waxing on about how people go on pilgrimages and some granny who needs to talk to a magistrate.
The hang up I have is: Why should I care? You had me at chapter one; I presume there’s a point to the chapter two flashback, but hurry up and make it! Or at least pick who you wanna reminisce about and, to quote Monty Python yet again, Get ON with it!!
Also the sample ends before the central conceit is revealed within the narrative. A no-no in my book.

This one’s really tough to call… I like Leckie’s voice and world, but her tendency to go on tangents prevented me from being truly hooked.

Have you checked out Ancillary Justice yet? Look for yourself and leave a comment telling me what you think!


2 thoughts on “Ancillary Justice

  1. I am one of those who is in love with this book. I thought her flashbacks were an enhancement and not a boring slow waste of time. My first argument is that you cant fully judge a book without reading the whole thing. You keep talking about a Sample piece you read, which of course is going to leave you unsatisfied. If you read past the sample pages you would discover why the synopsis is so vague. If they were not it would immediately give away a major plot reveal in the story. The flashbacks are also part of how Leckie was building not just the multi planet universe but also her main AI character. She is a fragment of what was once a massive AI ship, who had thousands of ancillaries sharing her mind and as part of her. Each smaller ship had a main ancillary who acted as a sort of captain. It is one of those captains who we are following in this story. So what we have is 1/1000 a piece of what was once a huge mind. Like a toe instead of the whole body. The way I interpreted the sometimes lengthy thought trails of the main character, and the flash backs, is because we weren’t being introduced to an AI who was completely sane. Which is also reviled and explored later in the story.

    • I’m glad to see your comment, and glad to hear you liked Ancillary Justice. I note in my “About” page that my reviews are ONLY of the sample, and I also explain why this is my format. When I choose to continue reading the work, then I follow up, explaining why I did so and what I thought.
      I also posit that these reviews are my own opinion; not everyone is going to like every book, and that is why I encourage my readers to evaluate the titles about which I post for themselves.
      The job of the sample is to make ME want to buy the product–this is the purpose of every sample, be it of books, or food in the grocery store–and this sample failed to do that.

      I was able to grasp the premise of reanimated corpse soldiers and a computer inhabiting a body fairly quickly. As I said in the review, Leckie’s worldbuilding put the plot in second place and I was unable to establish a meaningful connection with any character before the sample ended. But again, this is just me.
      I’m glad you liked the book, though. Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment!

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