I never know to say in these things. I guess that says something about me. I read a lot, write stories, and like books. I like a good debate. Nothing else is to say. :-)
Seriously, the only thing I could think while reading this book was: "how interesting!" This was such a different reading experience than I have ever had. Yes, in one sense it was standard science Fiction fare: huge, evil empire taking over space, group of rag tag heroes fighting the good fight against the on evil...and of course lots of spaceships and AI action, but what stood out the most for me was the society/world created.
The main society in the book, is gender neutral, or more accurately, its default seems to be female. Everyone is referred to as SHE. They do not concern themselves with gender identifiers...so the default pronoun for everyone is she. So while reading the book, there were several points where I was still unsure what gender, as I know it based on my understanding, the main character was or any of the other characters. And at various points in the book, in my head...they switched back and forth based on the scene. One minute I am imagine a girl and the next, I see a male. Only during travels to other world where they do note gender do we have some hint of the physical appearance of the character, but mainly it is all ambiguous and could describe any gender. But it worked, because really...their gender did not matter. The actions of the main character, her heroics, her morals and drive, would still be her character whether she was "male" or "female." Being on or the other did not take away from you, the reader relating to her and rooting for her. And that is the point isn't it? That was the goal of the author no doubt, whether conscious or not, to make the statement that if we did not focus on so much on gender and it was not such a huge indicator in our society, it would be easier to understand that is really in the long run makes no difference as far as character. The brave will be brave; cowards will be cowards, and the crazy will be crazy. We are who we are based on our collective experience, not our gender. It is very refreshing.
I know many people who won't read a book...because the main lead is a female, and lesser a male. They miss out on good stories and characters because of their gender bias.....both type would enjoy this tale, because it really doesn't matter once the story is told and you start rooting for Breq, or One Esk. So this makes for an interesting reading experience, and ultimately enjoyable. This was an A for sure.
I am looking forward to reading the sequels and I hope One Esk, now that his main goal is complete, find another reason to live. Maybe some personal developments…like a romance? I see hints of some things to come and I hope I'm right. *rubs hands in glee*