Book(s) Review: The Murderbot Diaries

I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.

Book #1: All Systems Red

About This Series

It’s finally time. For the long-promised The Murderbot Diaries review! So, this is normally the part where I give all the info about the book, it’s series if it has one, the page length, the publication date, and the synopsis. But since I’m reviewing an entire series for once, I thought it would probably be best to do something a little different this time. Just cuz (it might get a little repetitive, is all).

Anyway, The Murderbot Diaries is about a rogue construct (a human-robot hybrid, though not quite a cyborg, if I’m understanding some of the reviews correctly) known as a SecUnit (Security Unit). As the quote above alludes, this SecUnit – who secretly refers to itself as Murderbot, and considers this to be its true name – is quite self aware, is irritated by humanity, and just wants to be left alone to watch its favorite media. (Sanctuary Moon, if you were curious.)

Murderbot isn’t entirely “done” with humans as it were, though. It does end up making friends throughout the series, over the course of its character development. And it does enjoy doing its job – acting as security – a fair amount.

I liked protecting people and things. I liked figuring out smart ways to protect people and things. I liked being right.

Book #2: Artificial Condition

But it is a bit of an a-hole, much to the annoyance and chagrin of some of those that spend time with it. Though some of those individuals fling the sass right on back. For example:

Gurathin turned to me. “So you don’t have a governor module, but we could punish you by looking at you.”

I looked at him. “Probably, right up until I remember I have guns built into my arms.”

Book #1: All Systems Red


Pin-Lee had promised, “Don’t worry, I’ll preserve your right to wander off like an asshole anytime you like.” (I said, “It takes one to know one.”)

Book #6: Fugitive Telemetry

Pin-Lee is so sassy and smart and I love her. She’s also got some great interactions with MB, as seen above. Gurathin is also sassy, and he may be an even bigger a-hole than MB itself, but his heart is in the right place and he helps out his friends when they need it. And yes, this even includes Murderbot. MB has a lot of sassy and meaningful interactions with most of the supporting characters. But the most important one of these, is Dr. Mensah.

Dr. Ayda Mensah is, in many ways, Murderbot’s adoptive mother, or perhaps an older sister or mentor figure. (But she’s definitely its mom.) She cares so much for this snarky, emotionally repressed construct, as goes so far to help it and make sure it’s okay. In fact, as far as MB goes to save and protect her, she matches. She goes above and beyond to try to save and protect MB, even as it protests over and over again, that it is not her job. There’s another important individual to our favorite SecUnit, however.

ART said, “I want an apology.”

I made an obscene gesture at the ceiling with both hands. (I know ART isn’t the ceiling but the humans kept looking up there like it was.)

ART said, “That was unnecessary.”

In a low voice, Ratthi commented to Overse, “Anyone who thinks machine intelligences don’t have emotions needs to be in this very uncomfortable room right now.

Book #5: Network Effect

ART, otherwise known as Asshole Research Transport, is a sassy research ship that eventually becomes Murderbot’s best friend. (Though both of them are loathe to admit it, at first.) Their dialogue and banter, is the absolute best. Nothing beats sassy sort-of-a-robot versus sassy sort-of-a-ship-computer. Most of everything they have to say to each other is gold. But the best part about their friendship is how much they care about one another. Like MB and Mensah’s relationship, these two will go above what is legal, and sometimes what is moral, in order to help each other, as well as those they care about. It’s so sweet and wholesome, and I love it.

These aren’t the only characters and interactions that are fantastic. Like I mentioned above, most of the interactions are funny and meaningful. But the ones I’ve already listed, namely ART and Mensah, are the most important, as well as the best ones. My honorable mentions are as follows, though: Ameba, Ratthi, Miki, and Thiago. I love, loved these characters so much, too. And these were also very important people for Murderbot, and its continuing self-development.

This review is beginning to get really long – which, fair this is a series of five novellas and a full novel – but in the interest of keeping this a somewhat manageable length, and to keep it generally spoiler free, I’m just gonna put mini reviews for each book, and then finish it off with a few of my favorite quotes.

All Systems Red [The Murderbot Diaries, Book #1]

★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

I loved basically everything about it honestly. It’s actually hard for me to choose what I liked best about it, between the fast-paced plot, great world building and side characters, and the superb narration by the titular character.

Since I have to choose, my favorite thing about this novella was Murderbot itself. It was such a funny, interesting, and highly relatable character. I loved how its favorite hobby was watching soap operas in its spare time and how socially awkward it was. It was adorable.

I highly recommend this to everyone. And, it’s also not that long, so you won’t be devoting too much of your time reading it.

Artificial Condition [The Murderbot Diaries, Book #2]

★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

This series continues to be absolutely fantastic. Murderbot is out on its own trying to find out what really happened in the incident it named itself for. Along the way it meets some new characters, including ART (aka Asshole Research Transport) who I’m positive will return.

I loved watching MB start to slowly change and further develop as a person. It, like many humans, has started to learn that sometimes in order to get things that you want, you have to compensate by doing things that make you uncomfortable, and it makes MB even more relatable as a character. MB — through admittedly mostly external forces — is slowly beginning to realize that it is in fact a person, though it’s still in extreme denial about this and dies not even come close to acknowledging this yet. It just gives the excuse of doing the things that it’s doing for survival, which is valid, but is not completely true.

I loved seeing Murderbot’s interactions with humans, and especially its interactions with ART. Those were particularly amusing as well as important, as ART is the one to pressure MB to grow and evolve the most. And as I said above, I’m sure that ART will return. Its interactions with ‘Bot were too fantastic for it not to be so.

If you liked the first book, all I can say is that you have to continue reading because book two was just as awesome.

Rogue Protocol [The Murderbot Diaries, Book #3]

★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

That’s three perfectly rated books (by me) in a row! Yay!!

I loved this book, just like I loved the first two. Murderbot continues to be just as endearing and hilarious as it’s been in the past, and it’s my favorite part about its character.

Rogue Protocol was very important for finishing an emotional arc that MB’s been having, as it comes to a certain realization at the end of the book.

This book was also important because it finally showed a wholly positive relationship between a bot and a human in the characters of Don Abene and Miki, her “pet bot” (according to MB). These two characters genuinely love each other like family (and no that’s not a spoiler because it’s obvious to literally everyone except Murderbot from the onset) which is very different from how we’ve seen a lot of bot-human relationships so far.

(And yes, I remember ART going on and on about how great its human crew was in the last book, but those humans are never actually in that book, so we don’t get to read how they interact with each other.)

I definitely recommend this if you liked the first two, even just a little. I personally can’t wait to jump into book four.

Exit Strategy [The Murderbot Diaries, Book #4]

★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

Four for four, bay-bee!! This series really is the gift that keeps on giving if the gift you’re looking for is a great story, with great writing, and great characters. (Particularly a certain shy, antisocial, cyborg/biomechanical construct/AI who wants to be left alone so it can just watch its favorite TV shows and not talk about its feelings or interact with any humans in general, please and thank you.) It was nice to see a lot of the characters from the first book again, as I actually really liked them and their interactions with Murderbot.

Exit Strategy was a wonderful conclusion to the first arc of The Murderbot Diaries. I’m so happy that I discovered a series this late for once, as reading all four of the first novellas together really showed that they had a nice and tight story — despite some of MB’s meandering around the universe — and wrapped up the plot with very few loose ends. The ending was left open-ended with lots of room to expand the MD universe.

The ending was also really, really good. I was honestly kind of hoping for a resolution like what was written, and it did not disappoint. I can’t wait to see this series goes next!

Network Effect [The Murderbot Diaries, Book #5]

★★★★✬ • 4.5 / 5 stars

Another sci-fi, space adventure with everyone’s favorite sassy cyborg, but this time as a full novel!

It was an interesting go around this time, as this novel is twice as long as one of the four novellas that came before it. But it was a good interesting, and I think it displayed that the Murderbot Diaries can work as average length novels as well.

Regarding the stuff inside Network Effect that I liked… well, obviously MB’s snarky narrative voice is always a pleasure to read. It was top-notch as usual, too. I also liked seeing MB interact with new characters and watch them all grow and change as they had more interactions with one another. MB and Amena’s friendship was a highlight of the new character relationships for me, and I hope we see more of it in future novel(la)s.

And ART! ART how I’ve missed you, it was great to see you again! Not to mention, the banter between our favorite SecUnit and research transport was just as good as the last time we saw the two together. I also loved seeing how much these two cared about each other and how far each was willing to go for one another. Nevermind, this was (again) my favorite relationship of the book.

I also liked the plot as well. Though the characters and personalities are always the strongest parts of this series, the story was decent and relatively interesting too. It was nice to move away from the series’ usual villains for a bit and I liked seeing that they weren’t the only thing that sucked about the universe (besides the Corporation Rim of course).

As I said, fantastic as usual with this series, but I might’ve liked this ever so slightly less than all the others, so it gets a half star docked. Still amazing, though.

Fugitive Telemetry [The Murderbot Diaries, Book #6]

★★★★✬ • 4.5 / 5 stars

Martha Wells knocks it out of the park with Fugitive Telemetry, as well. But that’s per usual with The Murderbot Diaries. I’ve honestly yet to read a subpar installment of this series – it’s utterly fantastic!

This time our sassy SecUnit is playing detective with Preservation Aux’s security team, in order to solve the cause of death of a body found on the station. And we all know how much fun it is (for us readers) whenever MB has to interact with annoying humans.

This was a fun read, just like the rest of the series. Highly recommend.

And Now, Some of My Favorite Lines

I was having an emotion, and I hate that.

Book #4: Exit Strategy


So the plan wasn’t a clusterfuck, it was just circling the clusterfuck target zone, getting ready to come in for a landing.

Book #4: Exit Strategy


There was a big huge deal about it, and Security was all “but what if it takes over the station’s systems and kills everybody” and Pin-Lee told them “if it wanted to do that it would have done it by now,” which in hindsight was probably not the best response.

Book #6: Fugitive Telemetry


Unidentified One sounded even more amused. “You had better have the weapon we were told of, or I’ll take your ribs out one by one and break them in front of your little face.”

I saved that for future reference. Unidentified One seemed to have gone to some trouble with the wording of that threat, it would be a shame if they never experienced it firsthand.

Book #5: Network Effect

and, finally

I hate caring about stuff. But apparently once you start, you can’t just stop.

Book #3: Rogue Protocol

So, so many good lines! Too many, honestly, to share with everyone. If you enjoyed any of these quotes at all, definitely check out this series, if you haven’t already. To further motivate those who have not yet given The Murderbot Diaries a shot, here’s the book description for the first book in the series, All Systems Red:

Winner: 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novella
Winner: 2018 Nebula Award for Best Novella
Winner: 2018 Alex Award
Winner: 2018 Locus Award
One of the Verge’s Best Books of 2017
A New York Times and USA Today Bestseller

A murderous android discovers itself in All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that interrogates the roots of consciousness through Artificial Intelligence.

“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Doesn’t this book sound amazing? It does, doesn’t it?!? See, the sass even makes it into the plot summary! That’s definitely the sign of a great book!

In all seriousness, I really do recommend this book. Books. Highly recommend. It’s one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had reading, and I pretty much adore everything about it. So, do check it out.

And hey, if science fiction isn’t your thing, and you’re not super interested in the premise, at least check out one of Martha Wells’ other works. This lady has written a ton of stuff, and a lot of people agree that it’s all pretty great. So maybe you’ll find something to your tastes in one of her many stories.

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