Ada Palmer’s book takes the much admired gender trick featured in Ann Leckie’s Ancillary trilogy and kicks it up a notch. The narrator, who takes unreliability to a whole new level, comes from a society where using gendered language is just wrong, and people get the vapors when even thinking about it. Because he is a bad naughty antisocial person in thought (if not action), the narrator insists on using gendered words, except he arbitrarily assigns genders to people based on his own subjective opinion – bold assertive women are addressed as he, sensitive artsy men as she.
This is an interesting future society with utopian and dystopian notes, with possibly the amount of unreliable narration militating toward dys. It’s not really for YAs unless they’re history geeks who don’t mind a little ultraviolence. There is a little child who can commit miracles, and a brain bogglingly intricate society for him to impact, plus the book is written as an arcane philosophical text, with Mycroft repeatedly violating the fourth (and possibly fifth) wall. This book is so intelligent it made me tired, but it’s a strong contender.