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review 2020-05-25 14:19
'Network Effect - Murderbot Diaries #5' by Martha Wells
Network Effect - Martha Wells,Kevin R. Free

Finally, Murderbot gets the full-length novel that it and we deserve. Thank you, Martha Wells. I've loved the other episodes in the Murderbot Diaries but I was a little frustrated at having them drip-fed to me in what seemed to me to be a novel broken into novellas for no good reason.


I preordered the audiobook version of 'Network Effect' and dived into it as soon as it arrived in my audiobook queue. After four hours of immersion in Murderbot's world, this was my reaction:

This is a wonderful ride. MurderBot remains its compelling self but being freed from the novella format means that the plot structure is more complicated and the puzzle that needs to be solved has more twists in it.


Reading 'Network Effect' is like falling through a cascade of action sequences while working on a big picture to make sense of everything. There's never a dull moment and it took some self-control for me to do anything else today.'

I managed to pace myself and consumed the book over three days rather than one. The mystery continued to become more complex and the actions scenes continued to pile on and they were all fun and very well done but what I liked most about the book was the way in which Murderbot developed.


Murderbot isn't, doesn't want to be and can't become, human. Humans are messy and often reckless, shouldn't be trusted with weapons, are inappropriately optimistic for creatures that are both fragile and slow. Nevertheless, Murderbot is attached to its humans pretty much in the way you or I might be attached to our Labradors.


So, if Murderbot is going to continue to associate with humans and commit itself to protecting some of them, but isn't, doesn't want to be and can't become human, how does it develop to become more than a SecUnit that's hacked its governor unit so it can spend more time watching TV?


Martha Wells' answer to that is inspired.



Firstly she lets Murderbot itself slowly figure out that that is a question that deserves to be answered. Then she builds a plot that brings Murderbot back into contact with ART, the sarcastic, extremely bright, apparently working on covert missions transport ship that sheltered Murderbot earlier. Except this time Murderbot has to rescue both ART and ART's humans. Seeing the relationship between ART and its humans gives Murderbot a lot to think about. Creating a 2.0 copy of himself, for reasons I won't share here, and using his memories to persuade another SecUnit to hack its own governor unit, again help Murdrbot to reflect on its identity.



Then the Network Effect kicks in: we have multiple non-human intelligences connected to each other making Murderbot's situation less unique while making his value higher and pushing him to define who he is and what he wants to do next.

(spoiler show)


It's beautifully done. I had an exciting ride, a lot of action, good mystery and I got to watch Murderbot grow up.


I'll be back for more as soon as it's available.


I think the audiobook is quite well done, it even manages not to make Murderbot sound definitively male or female. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

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text 2020-05-25 11:04
Reading progress update: I've listened 282 out of 613 minutes. - the joy of words
Beach Read - Emily Henry,Julia Whalen

One of the joys of this book are the way the two writers trade pen sketches. Here's one where Gus, having asked what 'baby January' was like and having been told, 'She was a lot' spontaneously spins this:


'Let me guess. Loud. Precocious. Room full of books organised in a way that only you understood. Close with your family and a couple of tight-knit friends, all of who you probably still talk to regularly, but casual friends with anyone else with a pulse. A secret over-achiever who had to be the best at something, even if no one else knew. Oh and prone to juggling or tap dancing for attention in any crowd.' 


I can hear the joy and the danger in that kind of statement, where things come out of your mouth unedited, partly playful, partly true, partly catching you by surprise even as you hear yourself say them. It sparkles. Then January's response grounds it, without rebutting it, making it clear that words have edges and need to be thrown with care.


I also like how Emily Henry plays with the form while still delivering something satisfying. You know how there's likely to be a chapter in a romance book where the girl dreams of the boy or vis versa and suddenly understands the depth of their attraction? Well, this book has that chapter. The fun thing is that it's called 'The Dream' and it's one sentence long.


'I dreamed about Gus Everett and woke up needing a shower.'


That made me laugh.

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text 2020-05-25 09:24
Reading progress update: I've listened 234 out of 613 minutes. - like a romance but with real people
Beach Read - Emily Henry,Julia Whalen

I love how knowing and yet how believable this book is. The structure is self-referentially that of a romance novel, from Meet Cute to Happy Ever After with all the strep in between labelled as we go along.


Yet it's neither groan-worthily glub nor mechanically formulaic because: the characters KNOW the framework that they're in and any romance that occurs is created by mutual consent; the characters aren't plot-devices, they have histories and personalities and problems that determine how they behave within this romantic construct; the story is backlit by a playful examination of the process of writing a novel and the nature of the genres that are imposed on them. 


Together, these three things make for a novel that's like a romance but with real people who aren't blinded or glamoured by the magic of romance but instead are able to see themselves and each other more clearly.

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review 2020-05-25 09:14
The Benefactor (See No Evil Trilogy Book 2) by: Nana Malone
The Benefactor (See No Evil Trilogy Book 2) - Nana Malone





The Benefactor by Nana Malone

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ben and Livy are back and unpredictable as ever. Nothing says page-turner like power, greed and danger. Malone never backs down from a challenge, so why should her characters be any different. Big Ben was only the beginning. The Benefactor is a revelation. From out of the shadows comes perhaps the biggest twist of all. The healing power of love. 

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review 2020-05-24 21:46
Hot and Sexy (Some Like it Hot) by: Erika Wilde
Hot and Sexy (Some Like it Hot) - Erika Wilde





Hot and Sexy by Erika Wilde

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She's stronger than she looks and so much more fragile than she seems. He's on the hunt for adventure and has no idea what fate has in store. Hot and Sexy is a collision course of contradictions. Wilde pulls at the heart with a captivating tale of temptation. Joelle and Dean are not afraid to be bold, but it's their vulnerabilities that turn out to be the most intriguing. Sexy, sassy and sensitive becomes a five alarm fire.

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