"The Murderbot Diaries" are really a single novel that the publishers have released as four novellas. This would have been fine except each novella was priced as if it were a full novel, leaving me feeling abused by the publisher.
The reason I LET myself be abused is that "The Murderbot Diaries" are first-rate science fiction. They're fun, ingenious, fast-paced and plausible.
Murderbot is a wonderful creation. Its development over the course of the four novellas from a Security Unit that has hacked its own governor module so it can spend more time watching space soap-operas into a person with feelings, a strong sense of identity and a determination to stay independent is irresistibly attractive.
I read the fourth novella the same day that my pre-order dropped into my Audible library and I was gratified to find that the quality remained high and that the resolution was as plausible and original as the premise itself.
I won't go into the plot here other than to say that it brought together all the plot pieces from the previous novellas and used them to push Murderbot's development along by making it choose what to do about the mess "his" humans had gotten themselves into.
Although this final novella does what it's supposed to do and gives a resolution to the struggle with the big bad Corporates, it seemed to me that the main focus was on Murderbot working out what it wants to be. In the third novella "Rogue Protocol"Murderbot met what he thought of as a "pet robot". The sacrifices that robot made and the emotional attachment that the humans showed to it have both given Murderbot something to think about. He knows he doesn't want to be a pet. He also knows that watching media is no longer enough for him. Its still embarrassed and annoyed by the emotions it keeps feeling but has recognised them as an integral part of its personality.
I liked the fact that Murderbot rejects the Pinnochio option. It doesn't want to be a "real boy". In the end, what it wants is to have the freedom to be Murderbot.
Martha Wells has created something very special here. I hope there are more Murderbot books, just because I'm greedy for its company, but I'd be satisfied if this is all I ever know about Murderbot because it was a great ride in good company.
Of course, if there are more Murderbot books, I'd rather not have to buy them in four slices and end up paying four times the price. Did I mention that already?
I have the worst trouble writing reviews for books I unequivocally ★★★★★.
Probably the best review I can give this is that I immediately pre-ordered the next book, Artificial Condition.
I just loved being inside Murdebot's head. Grumpy, introverted, snarky, lazy, fighting any emotions or involvement ... anti-hero, indeed.
The worldbuilding with greedy corporations had a fond déjà vu for me of H. Beam Piper's works—but, original rather than derivative.
This had been on my radar since publisher first announced it. So glad I read it now for booklikes bookclub http://booklikes.com/book-clubs/88/tor-monthly-free-ebook-science-fiction-and-fantasy when publisher TOR offered as this month's free ebook.
I borrowed a kind friend's ARC, so no spoilers here, but I loved it! All the charm of the first Murderbot book, with some new revelations and plenty more details about the world. I loved it just as much as the first. Definitely pick this series up if you're interested in grumpy AIs who really want to just be left alone to marathon tv (and definitely never ever want to talk about feelings) but maybe kind of secretly like some humans a little anyway.
This book was highly recommended by a couple people I trust, so I was expecting to enjoy it. I was not, however, expecting it to be one of my favorite reads so far this year. This novella was so much more than I hoped for. This is hard sci-fi with a gooey heart filled center (much like the Murderbot itself).
The titular Murderbot was designed as a security unit, but has gained self awareness and individuality. When it hacked its security protocols to gain autonomy it didn't go on a murder rampage - instead it educated itself and became a media junkie. Murderbot is supposed to protect its clients, and it will, but it would really rather be left alone to watch serials. Interacting with humans is awkward and stressful, and when it comes down to it Murderbot just wants to be left alone. (I might relate to Murderbot a little too much sometimes.)
If you look at the cover and title you would not expect this book to be funny, but I found myself laughing out loud numerous times. Murderbot's voice makes this book for me. Told from Murderbot's POV this sci-fi mystery is also a story about self discovery and the bonds we form (or do not form) with those around us. The world building was subtile yet rich enough I could imagine how this culture functioned as well as the technology being used. I loved the sci-fi and action, and I also loved the dialogue and character. While the secondary characters tend to run together a bit, especially in the beginning, that felt like an authorial choice due to Murderbot's POV rather than a misstep. I was invested in the outcome for all involved, which kept me turning pages.
All in all I loved this novella, and I'm so happy there will be another one. If you've been hunting for a fast sci-fi read with a protagonist that's one of a kind, full of snark and world weariness that's actually earned, you need to read this book.