Reviews

Review: Murderbot Diaries #1 – #4 by Martha Wells 💻 I’m OBSESSED with this novella series

Review_ All Systems Red

Hello fellow bookworms 💗 Originally I only intended to review All Systems Red, but then I binge read books 2-4 in the Murderbot Diaries series as well (and got totally obsessed). Therefore, it made more sense to combine all 4 reviews into one post, so here we are! I’ve used dividers between my reviews, so you can skip ahead and read whatever reviews you want to. Reviews of sequels obviously can contain some information from previous installments, but the reviews itself are spoiler free 😊 If you’ve read any of the Murderbot books please fangirl with me in the comments 💕

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All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries #1)

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CW’s: Violence, Death/Murder, Injury/Slight Gore

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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.

Review

“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.”

The protagonist of the story – Murderbot – is the introvert icon we deserved! ➽ The story’s biggest advantage is the character voice of our Murderbot because it’s SO GOOD and really carries the story as we see everything through its eyes. It’s a SecUnit (security unit) build by corporate companies with both human and robotic part and usually, send along on missions that other people book with the company. The difference with our SecUnit is that it has managed to hack its governor module, meaning it’s no longer under the complete control of its owners and has freedom of will, which also should technically make it dangerous. The thing is … that Murderbot doesn’t want to actually murder anyone, it just wants to watch TV shows all day and be left alone. In general, it’s uncomfortable with human interactions, emotions, and small talk, which was so relatable to me. That’s why this character grew on me so much: , in theory, it’s supposed to be this horrifying cyborg entity … but it’s just shy and awkward. That doesn’t mean it’s harmless though, as our Murderbot still possesses all its features and begins to use them to protect the human crew it’s currently assigned to. However, it has to keep secret that it’s rogue, as it’s technically seen as property and would be destroyed if anyone found out. Murderbot’s character voice is also SO fun, it’s got great cynic humor, describes itself as a pessimist, and is generally tired with the weird things going on during this mission. I too am tired and would like to be left alone to indulge in my favorite shows 🥰

The story premise is also interesting and mysterious ➽ Murderbot is assigned to a human crew exploring a new planet for habitation and at first it seems like a pretty standard job. A team needs to book a SecUnit for security, but throughout the book, it’s touched upon that – just like in our world – companies are greedy, mine your data and only care about profit. Murderbot itself mentions that its parts and modules are cheap, which is why it could hack itself some free will. In the beginning, it’s bored by the mission … but then strange accidents happen, like local hostile fauna attacking and the other mission on the planet going dark. With too many suspicious happenings the crew begins to figure out what is going on and Murderbot realizes it must protect these silly humans it’s growing closer to against its will. This is a novella story, but the author built up a minor mystery in this book, and because Murderbot has such an intriguing character, I enjoyed my entire time reading this book! 💗

“So, I’m awkward with actual humans. It’s not paranoia about my hacked governor module, and it’s not them; it’s me. I know I’m a horrifying murderbot, and they know it, and it makes both of us nervous, which makes me even more nervous. Also, if I’m not in the armor then it’s because I’m wounded and one of my organic parts may fall off and plop on the floor at any moment and no one wants to see that.”

The human crew wasn’t too fleshed out, but I didn’t mind that ➽ There are a lot of human characters on the crew, so it was hard to keep track of who was who, especially as the focus is on Murderbot. I didn’t mind that some characters felt a bit one-dimensional as the entire series is mainly going to be about Murderbot’s experiences (hence why it’s called the Murderbot Diaries). Some crew members I really grew to love though, especially Mensah, who is the leader of the group. She’s with a non-profit organization and the one to understand the Murderbot the best. Mensah’s cool and. I also liked Volescu and Ratthi. Meanwhile, Gurathin was more suspicious than the rest of them of Murderbot, especially as he’s an augmented human. Most of all I liked how uncomfortable Murderbot was with the humans at first, but despite insisting otherwise it came to care about their well-being. This was heartwarming, especially as most of the crew begin to see it as another person and not something to be owned like the company that manufactured it!

Murderbot: I’m not sentimental about this crew of humans

Also Murderbot: Don’t harm my humans … or else 🔪🔪🔪

“Yes, talk to Murderbot about its feelings. The idea was so painful I dropped to 97 percent efficiency. I’d rather climb back into Hostile One’s mouth.”

IN CONCLUSION.All Systems Red was a fantastic novella about a not so scary, introverted Murderbot who used wanted to be left alone to consume TV Shows! I think the author did a great job crafting a compelling character voice for our main character and build up an intriguing mystery in a short time. Some human crew members could have been more fleshed out but I enjoyed the interesting dynamics between Murderbot and its humans! I highly recommend listening to the audiobook as it was such a great experience for me 💕

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Artificial Condition (Murderbot Diaries #2)

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CW’s: Violence, Attempted Murder

It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

Review

“When constructs were first developed, they were originally supposed to have a pre-sentient level of intelligence, like the dumber variety of bot. But you can’t put something as dumb as a hauler bot in charge of security for anything without spending even more money for expensive company-employed human supervisors. So they made us smarter. The anxiety and depression were side effects.”

Murderbot is back and this time it’s searching for answers in its past. ➽ It left behind Mensah and the rest of the crew to find out what its purpose is. I liked this element of self-exploration and figuring out what it wanted, instead of going the simple route and staying by Mensah’s side. Murderbot cannot slip into such a peaceful life – especially as it doesn’t want anyone to tell it what to do – so it sets out to confront its past. You might remember the ‘incident’ mentioned in the first book, as Murderbot ended up killing a lot of humans on a contract before it hacked its governor module. Now, Murderbot needs to know what exactly happened back then and if it was responsible for what happened – so it never happens again. It was interesting to see more of its past and explore the dynamics with the new humans and the bot ART, as we saw Murderbot in a new setting. It’s still so relatable and would rather sink into its media instead of hanging to go out and talk to humans. Once again, I related to its anxiety and awkwardness so much!

“ART said, What does it want?
To kill all the humans, I answered.
I could feel ART metaphorically clutch its function. If there were no humans, there would be no crew to protect and no reason to do research and fill its databases. It said, That is irrational.
I know, I said, if the humans were dead, who would make the media? It was so outrageous, it sounded like something a human would say.” 

It also gets involved with a new cast of humans again that need its help. ➽ I swear so far these first two books just have been ‘Murderbot accidentally begins to care about its clients and almost gets trapped in a found family’ 😂 The same applies here. Murderbot is trying to find out more about its past and takes on a random job to get access to the information it needs. Unfortunately, the human clients – who think it’s an augmented human – are in more trouble than they realized. Soon they are on the run from a powerful enemy who stole their research and have to deal with assassination attempts. It falls under Murderbot’s responsibility to save Rami, Tapan & Maro, so it once again gets too attached while denying that it cares about these humans personally. I loved their group dynamic and how Murderbot lies to itself when it gets so easily and quickly attached to any humans who show it kindness and treat it with decency 🥺

The other star of the book was ART! ➽ Murderbot decides to call it ‘asshole research vessel’ but in reality ART gives it a ride without ratting it out to anyone. They have such an interesting dynamic as ART is a sophisticated bot with a gigantic computing ability that’s even greater than what Murderbot can do. However, it’s also super afraid of anything happening to its crew (currently absent, which is why it let our Murderbot on board) or humans in general. It acts all high and mighty, but also gets addicted to the shows that Murderbot watches and tries to help it later when the new human clients are in danger. I definitely hope that we see more of ART as it brought a lot of banter to the novella, and I’d love to see more of its interactions with Murderbot!

“Fear was an artificial condition. It’s imposed from the outside. So it’s possible to fight it. You should do the things you’re afraid of.” 

The story was so comforting and relatable ➽ Like last time; I listened to the audiobook which is simply an INCREDIBLE experience 🥰 I read this book during an emotionally upsetting time and it put me at ease so much. The narrator is fantastic at creating Murderbot’s character voice and yet again it proved to be so relatable. I too would like to leave awarded situations immediately and sometimes wonder what I have gotten myself into. There were so many funny parts, especially when Murderbot had to interact with new humans that got themselves into trouble again. At the same time, we had relatable scenes, a new mysterious bot, and the return of Sanctuary Moon, this time we even got a second show.

Murderbot: Here we go again, I gotta protect these dumb humans 🙄

ART: But you don’t have to do it, you hacked your governor module

Murderbot: No, I gotta!! These are my humans now!

“Tlacey bought us passage on a public shuttle,” Rami told me. “That could be a good sign, right?” “Sure,” I said. It was a terrible sign.” 

IN CONCLUSION.Artificial Condition was just as delightful as All Systems Red and a great sequel, exploring more of Murderbot’s past and diving into its purpose for the future. There were many funny and relatable scenes that made this a delight to read, and I enjoyed seeing a new crew of humans, though I missed our original humans a bit. I cannot wait to read even more of these novellas now!!

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Rogue Protocol (Murderbot Diaries #3)

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CW’s: Violence, Death/Murder

SciFi’s favorite antisocial A.I. is again on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is.

And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.

Review

“I tuned down my pain sensors and the impact sites faded from explosions down to embers. (I know that’s actually not a permanent solution and pretending bad things aren’t happening is not a great survival strategy in the long run, but there was nothing I could do about it now.)” 

We explore more of Murderbot’s complicated relationship with its purpose and future ➽ Each book dives deeper into Murderbot’s past and personality, something I love as it gives us more insight into its struggles. I still relate to it way too much, as Murderbot still doesn’t know how to act around humans, would love to be left alone to watch media in peace and sometimes appears calm when it’s actually freaking out inside. Murderbot’s character voice is still so important to me and oddly comforting, as it does heroic things despite having shortcomings and anxiety. It’s such a small thing but has a big impact on me, as Murderbot is a realistic protagonist who has skills but at the same time is utterly lost sometimes too. The duality of this terrifying SecUnit also being so awkward and introverted is so well-written! In Rogue Protocol there’s also angst, as we see how Murderbot pretends not to care that it was treated like property all its life (especially when seeing how Miki is treated with care), while still being emotionally scarred and unable to admit that it is developing friendships with bots and humans alike 🥺 The ending especially showed how far Murderbot has come, but also how far it still has to go!

Some Additional Murderbot Highlights

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

“(There needs to be an error code that means “I received your request but decided to ignore you.”)” 

“Or Miki was a bot who had never been abused or lied to or treated with anything but indulgent kindness. It really thought its humans were its friends, because that’s how they treated it. I signaled Miki I would be withdrawing for one minute. I needed to have an emotion in private.” 

The star of this book was undoubtedly Miki! ➽ It’s a bot accompanying one of the humans (looking more like a robot unlike Murderbot, which has human parts) and the complete opposite of our narrator. Miki is the sunshine to Murderbot’s cynicism and trust issues. Murderbot has had horrific experiences with most humans, especially the company that owned it and exploited it like it was property. Meanwhile Miki has been treated with kindness and therefore loves its humans as friends. Similarly, it also wants to help Murderbot, as it’s very trusting, a bit naïve and generally so wholesome 💕 I loved to see the dynamic between Miki and Murderbot as they were in such different environments and it really shaped how they view themselves and humanity!

I also like how all novellas are connected to each other ➽ In general, I love the structure of a) Murderbot having yet another existential crisis (relatable) b) getting roped into protecting humans in danger (again) c) pretending it doesn’t care for the humans/doesn’t have any feelings in general (though that’s obviously not true) and d) being competent and a complete disaster at the same time (relatable as well) 😄 For this installment we dive deeper into GrayCris (from book 1) and its illegal activities that it’s still trying to conceal. I like how things always come back to the conflict of the first book and how it still has an influence on the plot! (We don’t talk about how the ending emotionally destroyed me, this will haunt me for the rest of the year)

Me just trying to have a good time with another Murderbot novella: 🥰💕💗

The ending: 😈💔🔪

“If you had to take care of humans, it was better to take care of small soft ones who were nice to you and thought you were great because you kept preventing them from being murdered.” 

IN CONCLUSION.Rogue Protocol was another fantastic Murderbot installment and had one of the most lovable secondary characters – Miki – whose dynamic with Murderbot explored some interesting differences in their behaviors and viewpoints. As always, Murderbot is the introverted robot protagonist of my dreams and representing all the people out there who might seem competent and high functioning, but are actually a diaster inside 😅

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Exit Strategy (Murderbot Diaries #4)

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CW’s: Abduction, Trauma, Violence

Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right?

Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah—its former owner (protector? friend?)—submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.

But who’s going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue?

And what will become of it when it’s caught?

Review

“(Possibly I was overthinking this. I do that; it’s the anxiety that comes with being a part-organic murderbot. The upside was paranoid attention to detail. The downside was also paranoid attention to detail.)” 

Murderbot strikes again and I love it dearly ➽ As I’ve said multiple times now, Murderbot’s social anxiety and insecurities are very dear to my heart as I could relate to them so much. It’s exactly the kind of unconventional hero that makes me believe I could be brave as well, even though I make mistakes and don’t always know what I want. Murderbot being allowed to question its purpose, future and wants throughout all the books is so important to me. You can see it gradually making progress with dealing with humans and emotions though, proving that Murderbot might be open to maybe let someone else in. I liked that the book explored that with the Preservation team and how it’s hard to trust people, even though they have been kind to you in the past. Murderbot needed to leave in order to find itself, yet it’s still hard to confront the past and the people it left behind, especially as it also had a lot of bad experience with humans. There are a lot of aspect of Murderbot’s struggles with its identity that continue to get explored, and it’s so well done! 💗

Some Additional Murderbot Highlights

“By tricky I meant I was getting an average of an 85 percent chance of failure and death, and it was only that low because my last diagnostic said my risk assessment module was wonky. (I know, that explains a lot about me.)”

“I hate having emotions about real humans instead of fake ones, it just leads to stupid moments like this.”

“The company is like an evil vending machine. You put money in and it does what you want, unless somebody else puts more money in and tells it to stop.” – my absolute favorite quote in this entire book 😂

“In the shows, I saw humans comfort each other all the time at moments like this. I had never wanted that and I still didn’t. (Touching while rendering assistance, shielding humans from explosions, etc., is different.) But I was the only one here, so I braced myself and made the ultimate sacrifice. “Uh, you can hug me if you need to.” 

This time we meet the PreservationAux Team again ➽ Murderbot has mainly been on its own adventures in Artificial Condition and Rogue Protocol, after leaving the team after All Systems Red. There are a lot of complicated feelings involved in its decision to leave and stay away, so it was interesting to see them confronted when the crew once again needs Murderbot’s help. I enjoyed seeing some of the teams again – namely Ratthi, Pin-Lee, Gurathin and of course Mensah – especially as I feel we got a better impression of their personality compared to the first book. Plus, I’m a big fan of the found family vibes in general and loved seeing Murderbot confronted with these humans that care for it, yet it still cannot bring itself to fully trust them.  However, you can also see how things have changed and maybe being away for a bit was what Murderbot needed to accept the crew into its life permanently.

I liked the action-packed plot and emotional moments ➽ Compared to the third book; I thought that the pacing was a bit better, and I liked the mission way more, especially as we got to see some of the old characters again. Mensah is in trouble, and it’s up to the Preservation crew and Murderbot to free her from the evil corporation holding her hostage. I liked this rescue mission setting, specifically as it had great suspense, reunions and a lot of emotional moments for all the characters 💕

“The one good thing about having emotions was that it accelerated the repair process for my memory storage. (The bad thing about having emotions is, you know, OH SHIT WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO ME.)” 

IN CONCLUSION.Exit Strategy was another fantastic Murderbot Diaries installment, this time reintroducing the characters from Preservation Crew (featured in All Systems Red) and going with a rescue mission. I loved Murderbot confronting leaving its humans and taking the time to figure things out on its own, the more novellas the read, the more I adore Murderbot 🥺💕

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Have you read The Murderbot Diaries? How did you like it? Who is your favorite character? What is your favorite book featuring robots/artificial humans etc.?

5 thoughts on “Review: Murderbot Diaries #1 – #4 by Martha Wells 💻 I’m OBSESSED with this novella series

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