System Collapse by Martha Wells | Book Review

I gained interesting insights, ART- drone said. You should stop worrying.

Yeah, I’ll just code a patch to stop feeling anxiety, wow, why didn’t I think of that earlier. (That was sarcasm, I have too much organic neural tissue for that to work.) (Of course I’ve already tried it.)

System Collapse by Martha Wells

System Collapse by Martha Wells

SERIES: The Murderbot Diaries (Book #7)

LENGTH: 245 pages

GENRES: Science Fiction, Fiction


RELEASE DATE: 14 November 2023


Am I making it worse? I think I’m making it worse.

Everyone’s favorite lethal SecUnit is back.

Following the events in Network Effect, the Barish-Estranza corporation has sent rescue ships to a newly-colonized planet in peril, as well as additional SecUnits. But if there’s an ethical corporation out there, Murderbot has yet to find it, and if Barish-Estranza can’t have the planet, they’re sure as hell not leaving without something. If that something just happens to be an entire colony of humans, well, a free workforce is a decent runner-up prize.

But there’s something wrong with Murderbot; it isn’t running within normal operational parameters. ART’s crew and the humans from Preservation are doing everything they can to protect the colonists, but with Barish-Estranza’s SecUnit-heavy persuasion teams, they’re going to have to hope Murderbot figures out what’s wrong with itself, and fast!

Yeah, this plan is… not going to work.

My Review

I am not meant to function without multiple simultaneous inputs. If this was what being a human was like, it sucked massively.

Sooo… this review is like, extremely late. I had fully intended to post this review sometime early last week, before Thanksgiving, but I just ended up being too busy and stressed out.

But I’m back at the blog, and finally here with my review of System Collapse by Martha Wells. This was probably my most anticipated book of 2023 and it was… fine. Pretty good even. It just turned out a little differently than I expected. Honestly, I’m still on the fence about my rating for this novel – I’m torn between four stars or four and a half.

Let’s just get into it…

• The characters

ART- drone reached out a limb to Iris. My function is impaired, Iris. So is SecUnit’s.

Will you shut the hell up? I said.

You shut up, it replied.

“Let’s everybody shut up and get in the flyer,” Iris said, and shouldered ART- drone’s limb, taking part of its weight.

I’ve always felt that the characters were the strongest part of the Murderbot Diaries, particularly its titular character, and the same is still true here. But this story focused more on an internal conflict that Murderbot is dealing with. So the other characters I love from this series took a backseat in this book.

SecUnit also didn’t seem to be nearly as sassy as it usually is. There weren’t all that many fantastic and funny quotes and dialogue compared to the rest of the series that I noticed. And that’s one of my favorite things about this series – I love how sassy and fun it is. And yeah, I understand that Murderbot was working through something, but everything seemed to matter a lot less than its thoughts on what it was going through. Constantly.

But when other characters did feature, and SecUnit did interact with them, it was fantastic. These were my favorite moments reading and I wish there were more of them. ART actually had more pagetime than I initially gave it credit for, now that I think about it, and its banter with SecUnit is always a treat.

• The plot

“I’ve fucked everything up,” I’d told ART.

ART had said, That’s nothing new.

I didn’t really care about it. It was about saving the descendents of the colonists that were found on the planet in book five. But I never found myself caring about these people, then or now. They just felt like a motivation or a plot device in order for SecUnit and ART and its crew and Preservation to do stuff.

Honestly, the A plot just felt like it was stalling in order for the B plot to happen. Which was Murderbot’s inner conflict – that its organic neural tissue is starting to exhibit signs of PTSD. Which was far more interesting to me than the thing with the colonists.

• Other favorite quotes

I didn’t say anything. (I know I get pissed off when humans don’t acknowledge my work, but why is too much acknowledgment also upsetting? Sentience sucks.)


You’re stalling, ART- drone said. I am not. I can stand here and be useless without any ulterior motives, thanks.


So the next time I get optimistic about something, I want one of you to punch me in the face.


I was not even going to respond to that. ART had told Mensah it wouldn’t push me. Just because its MedSystem was certified for emotional support and trauma recovery it thought it knew everything.

and finally

Wow, you don’t think it can get any worse, and it always does.

• Final Thoughts

This review is a little shorter than usual, but I’m honestly struggling with stuff to say about it. I think that’s another reason why this review took so long. I just don’t have too many opinions on it.

But System Collapse is still a solid addition to the Murderbot Diaries. It was still fun and sassy, even if it was less so than usual. This is a must read for anyone who enjoys the rest of the series, especially since the ending sets up a new arc for the series.

Thank you so much for reading, and have an awesome day/night!

See ya ~Mar

My Links:

My review of the first six books in The Murderbot Diaries

My review of the Murderbot Diaries short story Home

Home: A Murderbot Diaries Short Story by Martha Wells | Book Review

As Ephraim gets up and Ayda can finally walk out of this damn room, she replies to SecUnit’s latest requisition form. It’s for a gunship nearly the size PortFreeCommerce’s transit ring: I think you made this one up.

Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory by Martha Wells

Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory by Martha Wells

SERIES: The Murderbot Diaries

LENGTH: 20 pages

GENRES: Science Fiction, Fiction


RELEASE DATE: 19 April 2021


Knowing what would happen, she wouldn’t choose a different planet, a different bond company. Because then SecUnit would still be someone’s property, would be waiting for the contract where the negligence or greed or indifference of its clients got it killed. 

This short story directly follows the events in Exit Strategy and is told from the point of view of Dr. Mensah, who is still recovering from the events of that novella.

My Review

SecUnit is looking down at her. “You can hug me if you need to.”

“No. No, that’s all right. I know you don’t care for it.” She wipes her face. There are tears in her eyes, because she’s an idiot.

This review is gonna be pretty short, as Home – being a short story – is naturally short. Like, it’s only like 20 pages or so. So none of my section/heading breaks today.

Seeing as System Collapse’s release is imminent, I finally decided to read and review the only Murderbot Diaries thing I hadn’t yet. I don’t know why I never read it when I read the others – I guess that’s just life?

So yeah, this is a little Murderbot story – but instead of our favorite SecUnit narrating it, it was a 3rd person POV from Dr. Ayda Mensah. The story takes place very soon after the fourth novella, Exit Strategy, and is probably best read then.

I rather liked it – Martha Wells always has good prose, and it’s nice to hear from another character in this universe who isn’t SecUnit for once – as much as I love that construct. Mensah is also one of my favorite characters, and I really enjoyed seeing her relationship with Murderbot from her perspective. It was also interesting to see more of the PTSD that we heard about in Network Effect, but didn’t really see – at least Dr. Mensah’s since she wasn’t present much.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

It’s looking down at her still, and she could meet its gaze to make it look away, but that won’t make it retreat. “Is that a bribe?”

She can’t help a smile. It does sound like a bribe, just a little. “Depends. Will it work?”

“I don’t know. I never had a bribe before.”

So my final verdict is: If you have access to ebooks and stuff, and enjoy the other books in The Murderbot Diaries, then definitely pick this one up. It’s a quick and wholesome little read.

Thank you for reading, and I hope that you have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

My Links:

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: System Collapse

Good morning/afternoon/any other time of day everyone! It’s been a almost a month since the last time I made it for Can’t-Wait Wednesday. But I’m really excited for a novel coming out next week, so I thought it was more than time to do it again.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings (and was previously hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine where it was known as Waiting on Wednesday) to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. They’re usually books that have not yet been released.

This week’s book is:

System Collapse by Martha Wells!

This is my most anticipated book of 2023. Ever since I first read All Systems Red, I’ve been a huge fan of The Murderbot Diaries. It’s probably my favorite sci-fi series. And this one’s another full novel to boot, like Network Effect, as opposed to a novella like the rest of the series.

System Collapse by Martha Wells

System Collapse by Martha Wells

Are you a fan of The Murderbot Diaries? Do you like any of Martha Wells’ other works? What books are coming out that you’re looking forward to?

Thank you so much for reading and have an excellent day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England” by Brandon Sanderson | Book Review

“There is no only when it comes to goodness and joy. The smallest amount is as large as the universe, and one boy saved from a pit is a precious work beyond that of any king’s treasury.”

The Frugal Wizard's Handbook for Surviving Medieval England by Brandon Sanderson

The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England by Brandon Sanderson


SERIES: Secret Projects #2 / Standalone Book

LENGTH: 400 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Dragonsteel Books

RELEASE DATE: 11 April 2023


A man awakens in a clearing in what appears to be medieval England with no memory of who he is, where he came from, or why he is there. Chased by a group from his own time, his sole hope for survival lies in regaining his missing memories, making allies among the locals, and perhaps even trusting in their superstitious boasts. His only help from the “real world” should have been a guidebook entitled The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England, except his copy exploded during transit. The few fragments he managed to save provide clues to his situation, but can he figure them out in time to survive?

Note from Brandon:

Sometimes an idea just won’t let go of you for years. The initial seed of this novel was the title that eventually turned into The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England. At first there was no story go to with that title, but I wrote it down and kept coming back to it, wondering what that book could possibly be about. Something else I thought about off and on for years was the classic concept of a man waking up in another time and another place, with no idea how he got there. It was when those two ideas came together, and I placed a book with that title into that man’s hands, that this novel was born. I hope you’ll have as much fun with it as I did!

My Review

“So where did the first god come from?” I asked Ealstan.

“Licked from a rock by a cow,” Ealstan said with a perfectly straight face.


“It was a very special cow.”

So, real talk – I’ve never actually read a Brando Sando book before. His books combined with his series are just too long. (Except for Steelheart, but I wasn’t able to get into that one at the time I tried to read it.) I just don’t feel comfortable committing to that, especially after my failed attempt to read A Song of Ice and Fire (I gave up a third of the way through A Clash of Kings.)

But then I heard about this book last week, and it was a standalone and it sounded fun. So, I decided to pick it up and give it a shot.

As far as first Sanderson books go, I give this one four stars. (I know I already said that above, but it’s a joke cuz the book has a bunch of star ratings in it.)

Speaking of the novel, let’s get into it.

I patted the tree I’d been hiding behind. “Thanks for the cover,” I whispered. “You’re a good tree. Tall, thick—and most importantly—wooden. Four and a half stars. Would hide behind you again. Half a point off for lack of refreshments.”

Our main character wakes up in a place he doesn’t recognize, and soon discovers that he has amnesia. And so begins his quest to figure out who he is, as well as what’s going on.

The MC, who introduces himself as Runian to the denizens of the medieval world he’s found himself in, is pretty entertaining to follow. I really liked his voice and how he rated different stuff about his adventure an allotment of stars. It’s an amusing little quirk of his. I also enjoyed his dynamic with the cast of characters that he teams up with.

These characters include Sefawynn, a skop – one who can speak the Wyrd. She’s smart and feisty, but she’s not a girlboss or a Mary Sue, which I very much appreciated. Her romance with Runian was also cute, even if I would’ve liked a little more development.

I also really liked Ealston. He’s loyal and brave, and he’s willing to give his life for his friends and loved ones. He also has his entertaining moments as well. Like when it’s revealed that he named his axe.

“Fine then. I’ll tell Ealstan how great bows are,” I said, “and how axes are mundane and lack finesse.”

“Here, now,” he said from the other side of my horse. “Don’t involve me in this. Heresy is one thing, but insulting Rowena is something else.”

“Wait,” Sefawynn said. “You named your axe?”

“Um, yes,” Ealstan said, looking away.

Sefawynn giggled.

Thokk was the best character though, hands down. I just like spicy old women who don’t take crap from anyone, okay? She was hilarious, and I loved how she kept following everyone around. She was a total gem.

“So…” Thokk whispered. “Why are we sneaking about again?”

“Again, elder,” Ealstan said. “This is dangerous. Perhaps you should—”

“Why should I care if it’s dangerous?” Thokk said. “Do you know how old I am? I probably only have a few months left. Not much to risk here! So what are we doing?”

Though the characterization was obviously the star of The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook, the story was pretty good too. A man trying to find his identity in an epic fantasy world? Awesome. Where can I read it?

The chapters from the “Frugal Wizard’s Handbook™” were also hilarious. Probably my favorite part of the book. This one in particular is my personal favorite:

The Frugal Wizard's Handbook

The art was also really good. I loved how cute The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook™ stuff was. The artwork really adds to the novel, and it definitely wouldn’t have been the same without it.

So yeah, I thought that this novel was really fun. It was a change of pace from some of the SFF that I usually read, which I liked. And yes, Sanderson actually technically wrote an isekai/portal fantasy.

I don’t really know who to recommend this book to. I guess Brando Sando fans will probably enjoy it to some degree, but I also think those who like their humorous fantasy books will like it too.

Anyway, thank you so much for reading, and have an excellent day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“Arch-Conspirator” by Veronica Roth | Book Review

“Sometimes you stare into the future, and you don’t like anything you see.”

Arch-Conspirator by Veronica Roth

Arch-Conspirator by Veronica Roth

LENGTH: 112 pages

GENRES: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Fiction


RELEASE DATE: 21 February 2023


“I’m cursed, haven’t you heard?”

Outside the last city on Earth, the planet is a wasteland. Without the Archive, where the genes of the dead are stored, humanity will end. 

Antigone’s parents – Oedipus and Jocasta – are dead. Passing into the Archive should be cause for celebration, but with her militant uncle Kreon rising to claim her father’s vacant throne, all Antigone feels is rage. 

When he welcomes her and her siblings into his mansion, Antigone sees it for what it really is: a gilded cage, where she is a captive as well as a guest. 

But her uncle will soon learn that no cage is unbreakable. And neither is he. 

My Review

Everything felt empty and strange, like the world had ended and we had slept through it.

I’m not gonna lie; part of the reason that I read this novella was to see if Veronica Roth grew at all as a writer in the past ten or so years.

It appeared not. I was disappointed.

I also wanted to read this because I wanted to read this. It just sounded so interesting. I’m a sucker for retellings. I’m also a sucker for a well-written, post apocalyptic, science fiction story. And Arch-Conspirator sounded like the best of both worlds. I was genuinely excited to read it.

Alas, it fell short for me in several regards.

I’m very aware that this is inspired by Antigone, a Greek play written by Sophocles around 441 B.C. I’m also somewhat familiar with it, and I brushed up a little on it after reading Roth’s novella. And I will concede that she does… something with her retelling. Just not as much as she could have.

WARNING: This review is not necessarily “spoiler-free.”

First off, I have to talk about the thing that I hated the most about this: the first person perspectives. They weren’t unique enough, and they felt like the same narrator. If every new chapter hadn’t come with a new POV identifier, I’m not sure how long it would’ve taken me to figure out whose point of view said chapter was from. They were that indistinct.

(Except for Polyneikes, but he only has one POV chapter before he dies. And no, that isn’t a spoiler, considering how he’s dead before the play this is based on, Antigone, even starts. And even then, his chapter hardly feels that different from the other characters.)

But not all things are guaranteed for all people. That is the way of things.

Secondly, I also didn’t like how quickly Polyneikes and Eteocles are fridged. Yes, they die in the original, but if you’re choosing to add them to your narrative, you can at least try to make them into actual characters. Eteocles doesn’t even get a POV chapter! We never learn his motives and opinions about his choice to “betray” his siblings first-hand. And this is a book full of different first person perspectives! Why then wouldn’t you even bother to give him one!?! Instead we hear about what he probably thought from his siblings, none of whom seemed to be all that close to him.

Anyway, I have to stop it there before it becomes a bigger rant than it already is. (And it doesn’t even compare to the rant I went on to my partner last night, lol.)

Lastly, the world building. To put it frankly: it kind of sucked. I know what you’re going to say. This is a novella and It’s too short for real world building. So, I say to you: No. No it’s not. You can put at least the barest minimum into it.

I asked my father, once, why he chose to curse us before we were born.

Let me clarify a few things though. The setting is fine. It’s the other aspects of Roth’s world building that my problem resides.

My problem is: I don’t believe what Arch-Conspirator is selling. I don’t believe that Antigone is angry, even though the text tells me that she is, because it never shows it. I don’t believe the reasons put out about why this society believes that Antigone and her siblings don’t have souls, but that stored DNA and genes do, because it’s not shown enough. This is also a huge problem with Roth’s other work, Divergent, and it is very prevalent here as well. Show don’t tell please!

Anyway, that’s it for this review. Arch-Conspirator wasn’t necessarily better written than the Divergent series, but at least it was short. People who like Veronica Roth’s stuff will probably like it though.

As always, thank you so much for reading, and have a great day/night!

See ya ~Mar

Weekly Wrap-Up: 4/24 – 4/30

The Weekly Wrap-Up is back on schedule! Yay!

This last week was a bit less busy. Thank goodness. I was able to post quite a bit, and I even started a new post yesterday.

But that’s enough of a preamble. Let’s get into the wrap-up.

Tuesday 4/25: Chance Review

Chance by Matthew FitzSimmons

Last Tuesday, I finally posted my review of Chance by Matthew FitzSimmons. It’s a science fiction book that I was really on the fence about. I gave it ★★★☆☆.

My review of Chance

Wednesday 4/26: WWW Wednesday

On Wednesday I participated in another WWW Wednesday. WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

WWW Wednesday 4/26

Thursday 4/27: In the Lives of Puppets Review

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune

Thursday was when I posted my review for the much anticipated, In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune. It’s a sci-fi inspired retelling of Pinocchio. I gave it ★★★★★.

My review of In the Lives of Puppets

Friday 4/28: First Line Friday

On Friday, I participated in First Line Fridays. First Line Fridays is a weekly feature (formerly) hosted by Wandering Words.

First Line Friday #12

Sunday 4/30: Popular Books That I’ve Read Never

Yesterday, I tried out a new thing I like to call Popular Books That I’ve Read Never. This is a post where I make a little list of popular books that I’ve never read. That’s it, that’s the post.

Popular Books That I’ve Read Never

Books I Read Last Week

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune
Noragami: Stray God by Adachotoka
(Rating is for entire manga.)
Arch-Conspirator by Veronica Roth

Goals for 5/1 – 5/7

For the most part, I want to keep up the momentum of what I’m posting. I also want to do my monthly wrap-up for April, hopefully tomorrow. I’d also, if the day allows, really, really like to post another Majestic Monday, since it’s been so long, and I just like book covers so much.

Concerning my book consumption, I definitely want to read more than last week. I really feel like I could’ve read more, so I want to do so this week.

As always, thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“In the Lives of Puppets” by TJ Klune | Book Review

The boy – Victor Lawson, son of Giovanni Lawson – said. “You.” He pointed toward the bigger stick figure. “Me.” The smaller stick figure.

“Yes,” Giovanni said quietly. “You and me. Always.”

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune

LENGTH: 420 pages

GENRES: Fantasy, Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, Fiction


RELEASE DATE: 25 April 2023


In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots—fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They’re a family, hidden and safe.

The day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labelled “HAP,” he learns of a shared dark past between Hap and Gio–a past spent hunting humans.

When Hap unwittingly alerts robots from Gio’s former life to their whereabouts, the family is no longer hidden and safe. Gio is captured and taken back to his old laboratory in the City of Electric Dreams. So together, the rest of Vic’s assembled family must journey across an unforgiving and otherworldly country to rescue Gio from decommission, or worse, reprogramming.

Along the way to save Gio, amid conflicted feelings of betrayal and affection for Hap, Vic must decide for himself: Can he accept love with strings attached?

My Review

In an old and lonely forest, far away from almost everything, sat a curious dwelling.

This book. This book. This right here was the reason that I finally decided to read The House in the Cerulean Sea. It’s because the premise of In the Lives of Puppets seemed so amazing and intriguing, and right up my alley.

I read some very well written and thoughtful reviews a couple of weeks ago, in my anticipation to read this novel. And they were a bit lower, which made me nervous, but I resolved to be undeterred. Especially after I read The House in the Cerulean Sea.

And I’m glad I did. Because this book was wonderful.

“How does one arrive at the decision to kill God?” It’s easier than you might expect.”

Sure, this book had its flaws, as all of them do. But it took absolutely nothing away from my enjoyment while reading. In the Lives of Puppets is a tale both sad and beautiful, and it almost made me cry. And books that are able to do that to me – to make me feel things that much – are almost always guaranteed to get at least four stars. And this novel was better yet.

The characters are the glue that holds this book together. 21 year-old Victor “Vic” Lawson was probably the most cookie cutter of all of them – and gave me some serious Disney princess vibes at times – but he was still very realistic and relatable, and he felt so, so human.

Giovanni Lawson was a wonderfully complex man that brought our lovely cast of characters together. At times, he felt even more human to read about than Vic, which is quite a feat for an android. I loved he and Vic’s father-son bond, and how it was always the driving force of the novel. So many books are quick to forget the loved ones of the protagonist, and I’m so happy to have found another one that is not that kind of story.

“Fine,” she said with a rude beep. “I would consider feeling slightly despondent at your forced absence, and then do everything in my power to ensure you returned with most – if not all – of your limbs intact.”

“Why?” Vic asked.

“You know why,” Nurse Ratched said.

“Because I’m yours,” he said. “Like you’re mine.”

Nurse Ratched was, hands down, the absolute best character from the book. Rude, sassy, and borderline sociopathic, she was perhaps the most human of the entire cast. Both a great source of the comic relief, as well as a fierce Mother Hen. And you’d do your best not to harm her chicks.

Rambo the Roomba was a hilarious and wholesome addition to the group. While not as apparently useful as the rest of the characters, he brought levity and hope to the scenes that needed it most.

Hap was probably the character I enjoyed the least, despite him being the inciting incident. But I still liked him, and his banter with the other main characters was something that I really grew to love as the novel continued. He made a fine addition to the group.

I liked a lot of the other characters too. I also really liked all the Pinocchio references and quotes that I caught though, as well as the Wall-E vibes throughout. There were also other references and things that flew over my head, as Klune was clearly inspired by a lot. That, and I’ve never read Pinocchio and it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen any adaptations.

The plot itself was also extremely wholesome and engaging. I found it difficult to put down, honestly. There was never really a dull moment here, and I also really enjoyed the world building.

Now, let me be clear, before I finish off this review: there were a couple of things I didn’t like. But they were very, very small things – almost negligible – and mostly had to do with Klune’s style. Stuff like saying Victor’s or Giovanni’s full names several different times throughout the text.

“There is nothing more powerful than a heart. I wish I knew what it’s like. It appears to be more transformative than I ever thought possible. Hold on to it, the pair of you. Never forget what beats in your chest. It will be your guide, and with a little luck, you’ll find what you’re looking for.”

So yeah. In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune is an amazing story. Any fan of Klune’s other stuff should definitely read it, as I think it’s his best yet (out of the two books of his I’ve read). I also think that fans of sci-fi and fantasy that like good prose and humor will really like it too.

Thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

My review of The House in the Cerulean Sea

“Chance” by Matthew FitzSimmons | Book Review

“So, who’s ready to see me do something crazy?”

Chance by Matthew FitzSimmons

Chance by Matthew FitzSimmons

SERIES: Constance (Book #2)

LENGTH: 313 pages

GENRES: Science Fiction, Fiction

PUBLISHER: Thomas & Mercer

RELEASE DATE: 14 February 2023


A clone plays a dangerous game of life, death, memory, and murder in a twisting thriller by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Matthew FitzSimmons.

Cloning is a luxury for the wealthy. For Chance Harker, it’s a way of getting on with his lives. Five years ago, when he was sixteen, he and his brother, Marley, were murdered in a kidnapping gone wrong. Chance was revived—and his grieving parents met his existence with anger, neglect, and aversion. The public, though? They can’t get enough of the death-defying stunts he has parlayed into a social media spectacle.

But after Chance’s latest “refresh,” he awakens to accusations that he’s killed Lee Conway, a stranger Chance has never met. Has one of his clones? With no memory of his previous selves, and working fast before he’s arrested, Chance digs into Conway’s background, the mysteries of his own life—and death—and the tragic abduction that tore his family apart.

All Chance has to do is stay ahead of the LAPD; his kidnappers, who are back on the hunt; and a growing mob of incensed protesters outraged that a rich clone appears to be getting away with murder.

My Review

There’d been a purpose behind all this once, back at the beginning. Back when he’d stopped being a person and had become “the victim of a terrible crime.” Or, to put it more accurately, the clone of a victim of a terrible crime.

So, before I get into my review, I should probably mention that I jumped right into this series via this book. The second book. But I should also mention that the books in this series were written in such a way, to be also accessible as standalones.

But yeah, I kind of read it out of order. So what?

Anyway, let’s just let the cat out of the bag: I didn’t like this book as much as I’d hoped to. I really thought this was gonna be an easy five star read for me, but it wasn’t. Like, it definitely wasn’t that bad of a book – I did give it three stars. It just wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be.

Let’s start with the stuff I liked. I really liked our protagonist, Chance. He was a bit of an idiot, especially at first, but he was attempting to deal with his trauma, even if it wasn’t in a good way. But his development as a character is nice to follow, and I loved watching him grow and change.

Chance tried to remember the last time his father had hugged him and came up blank.

His complex and strained relationships with his family were also very interesting to read about. These were the most compelling aspects of the novel, in my opinion, and these moments were the primary reason I wanted to see how it all ended.

Other than that, the plot was pretty interesting, and I liked all the science-y world building around the clones and the other futuristic tech.

But yeah, that’s kind of it for the stuff I enjoyed. I didn’t really care about the rest of the characters, or find them interesting. I didn’t even care for the antagonists.

Also, and this might be because I didn’t read the first book, but I didn’t really like Con D’Arcy either. I know that she was the protagonist of the Constance, and that a lot of people seemed to like her, but I just kind of found her annoying. Sorry.

The POV and voice also didn’t feel like it was coming from a 21 year-old guy. You should be able to discern a character’s voice regardless of what POV it’s in. Their personality should shine through more than it does in this book.

Oh and also, Mickey7 did the whole Ship of Theseus clone meditation thing way better.

She looked at him sadly. “Did you know that the more money a person has, the harder it is for them to identify facial expressions in others?

Chance also felt exceedingly preachy at times, and this is the biggest reason why I felt turned off by it. I hate it when the characters appear to be mouthpieces for the author to launch into their opinions and grievances about the world. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I just appreciate it with a lot more subtlety. Which is something that this novel didn’t have. At all.

Other minor criticisms include: reiterating the same thing a character said or came to a conclusion about less than a page ago multiple different times; unnatural dialogue; and weird descriptions. I don’t care about what this same-y area looks like describe the goddam characters.

Guys, I just want to enjoy a story. Is that so much to ask?

But nothing stayed hidden forever, did it?

Chance by Matthew FitzSimmons was a very mid, very preachy, sci-fi story set in the near future. I liked a few things about it, but so many things about it irritated me at the same time.

I recommend you definitely read it if you read and enjoyed Constance, and I think you should give it a shot if you like science fiction stuff set in the next few decades.

As always, thank you so much for reading, and have a great day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“Antimatter Blues” by Edward Ashton | Book Review

“Look, there is a very good chance that this is going to end badly, okay? You can’t come with me. You’re not an Expendable.”

“Neither are you,” she says. “Remember?”

Antimatter Blues by Edward Ashton

Antimatter Blues by Edward Ashton

SERIES: Mickey7 (Book #2)

LENGTH: 304 pages

GENRES: Science Fiction, Fiction

PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Press

RELEASE DATE: 14 March 2023


Edward Ashton’s Antimatter Blues is the thrilling follow up to Mickey7 in which an expendable heads out to explore new terrain for human habitation.

Summer has come to Niflheim. The lichens are growing, the six-winged bat-things are chirping, and much to his own surprise, Mickey Barnes is still alive—that last part thanks almost entirely to the fact that Commander Marshall believes that the colony’s creeper neighbors are holding an antimatter bomb, and that Mickey is the only one who’s keeping them from using it. Mickey’s just another colonist now. Instead of cleaning out the reactor core, he spends his time these days cleaning out the rabbit hutches. It’s not a bad life.

It’s not going to last.

It may be sunny now, but winter is coming. The antimatter that fuels the colony is running low, and Marshall wants his bomb back. If Mickey agrees to retrieve it, he’ll be giving up the only thing that’s kept his head off of the chopping block. If he refuses, he might doom the entire colony. Meanwhile, the creepers have their own worries, and they’re not going to surrender the bomb without getting something in return. Once again, Mickey finds the fate of two species resting in his hands. If something goes wrong this time, though, he won’t be coming back.

My Review

“You’re not an Expendable, babe. You’re just Mickey Barnes now. That means you don’t have to die for me anymore.” She puts one hand behind my neck and pulls me to her until our foreheads touch. “That means you don’t get to die for me anymore.”

So, even though I didn’t find it as good as the first book, I still really liked Antimatter Blues. It was still sassy, and it still had the characters I loved from Mickey7 (for the most part – we’ll get to that).

This book begins two years after the first one ends. And it immediately starts off with a banger line that you’d expect out of our MC, Mickey Barnes.

Mickey is just as sassy as he was in book one, and I loved that. But his character doesn’t really change in this book. Like, it seemed like he went and finished his entire character arc in the last novel.

In AB, Mickey honestly seems to regress a little bit as a character and redoes part of his arc from Mickey7 a second time. The sequel even goes out of its way to discuss the Ship of Theseus again.

“Oh no,” he says. “Don’t start with that shit. I gave you up for dead once, remember? It didn’t work out. This time, I’m assuming you’re gonna find a way to weasel out of this right up until I actually see your mangled corpse-and even then, I’m checking for a pulse.”

Berto is definitely someone who’s grown as a character here though. He’s changed from someone who’d abandon his friends during the very rare times that he feels fear, into someone who’d always return for them. With more firepower.

Nasha, one of the best characters of the first book, however, is one of the worst characters here. Mostly because for most of the novel she kept complaining about how they were all going to die, and it became incredibly annoying very quickly. It also seems quite out of character for her, being the independent, badass woman she was.

“Greetings,” it says when it reaches me. “What is pervert? We do not have this word.”

That surprises me a little, considering that they’ve been monitoring my conversations with Berto for two years, but okay.

“It’s a term of affection,” I say. “Have you reached a decision about our request?”

I rather liked Speaker though – the liaison sent by the worm aliens to help Mickey retrieve the antimatter bomb from his “friends in the south.” He was strangely endearing, and I honestly cared more about him over most of the human characters.

Concerning Marshall, our resident a-hole from the first book, I liked him less here. Mostly because he didn’t get as much page time as before, but also because his interactions with Mickey, one of the highlights of book one, were cut down in Antimatter Blues. There’s also the matter of the thing that happens at the end – there wasn’t enough buildup to it, and I felt that it cheapened it significantly.

Speaking of that thing.


Marshall sacrificing himself was nice and all, and was an okay end to his character, but it bothers me that he didn’t interact with Mickey a final time before it happened. We, the reader, find out about it after he does it, and through an exposition dump he left behind. Ugh. I absolutely hated that.

And then the book just kinda ends. Right there. Sure there’s a little epilogue after it, but it’s literally like two pages. And then it ends. It just felt very abrupt and I didn’t like that.


Aside from the thing, and Nasha suddenly acting out of character, the rest of the novel was pretty much fine. All the plot threads were tied up, but it was left slightly open-ended in case Ashton would want to return to this universe someday.

And the hell of it is, I actually hadn’t remembered, not until she said it. I haven’t uploaded in over two years now. Even if Marshall winds up pulling another Mickey Barnes out of the tank when I’m dead, it won’t be me.

All in all, I really liked Antimatter Blues. Though not as good as its predecessor, I thought it was a good follow-up.

I definitely recommend this to fans of Mickey7, but also others who like sci-fi in space. People who enjoy The Murderbot Diaries would also probably like this duology.

Anyway, thanks as always for reading, and have a fabulous day/night!

See ya ~Mar

My review of Mickey7