When I read a bunch of series books back to back like this, I don’t like to do individual reviews for each one. I especially like to skip descriptions as that can cause inadvertent spoilers for earlier volumes. So after loving the first Murderbot book by Martha Wells, All Systems Red, I ordered the rest of the as-of-yet published series from the library, and will do mini-reviews below.
My favorite thing about this second volume of the Murderbot series is the focus on unconventional friendships. The narrator, who I’ll just refer to as Murderbot, is on a quest, but that quest keeps getting interrupted by folks (human and bot) who form unexpected attachments to Murderbot. And those attachments end up proving mutually beneficial. So in essence, we have this Construct that is, for the first time, entirely under its own directive, and in attempting to discover more about its past, it’s instead learning about friendships, attachments, and loyalty that isn’t enforced by contract. It’s a lovely book, even better than the first in the series, and I can’t wait to dive into book 3!
Back again, and this time, the book is full-on action. I love that, so far at least, each of these books has been completely different in structure, not following the same arch or general story. Murderbot is still its antisocial self with the built-in urge to protect humans (though it’s not so sure the urge is technically built-in anymore), and it’s learning all about other forms of bot in addition to the infinite variety of humankind. Only now, there are betrayals and combat-bots and lots of danger and fighting, with almost no space to rest. Interesting note to the series: Murderbot doesn’t feel inclined to understand the whys of everything going on around it. This leaves a lot of gaps in the reader’s information, where a reader might question why these people did X, and why other people wouldn’t do Y, and what caused Z to happen in the drop in communication. Murderbot doesn’t care. Murderbot just moves on without examining the specifics, forcing the reader to do the same, which is a slightly uncomfortable but also interesting experience.
And now we’ve come full circle, with Murderbot returning to help the folks it first got involved with back in Book 1. There’s starting to be more background on some of the world-building and corporations involved. This was another high-action book, but not as much as the third. There was a good balance of introspection, world-building, and action – the most complete-feeling of the novellas so far. It seems as if Murderbot is starting to figure out who it is and what it wants, and beginning to see possibilities for its future. I’m loving the progress. Once again, I raced through this book, end the ending was just perfect. The full-length novel is next, and I can’t wait! There are some hints that other characters may be returning!
This is the only (so far) full-blown Murderbot novel, and as such, could go into much greater detail on a lot of things (from characters to world-building, as well as thematic elements such as philosophy toward construct creations like programmed bots that also have organic neural tissue). It took me a bit longer to get through the book as I had quite a bit of Life Stuff happen shortly after I began it, but that in no way decreased my enjoyment. I found myself grinning every time Murderbot says something like, “Ugh, emotions,” because really, UGH, emotions, right?? I’m really sad not to have the (current) last book in the series out right now, but it only released at the end of April, so there’s a much longer hold line at the library. I’ll be diving into it as soon as it arrives, though. Still, I felt like this book could have ended the series quite nicely, with pretty much the past all closed up, and the future only hinted at as a possibility rather than a cliffhanger. But luckily for all us Murderbot fans, the series goes on, and I’ve heard it’s been signed on for another so-many books after #6, woohoo!