Book Review: The Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells

This is short series of novellas that I binge read and then had to wait a couple of weeks for the last one to come out. Now that they’re all available and I’ve read them all I decided to review them all together. Weeeee, Murderbot!

 

The Murderbot Diaries are four novellas by Martha Wells following the adventures of an advanced AI bot that (who?) was designed specifically for security details.

  • All Systems Red
  • Artificial Condition
  • Rogue Protocol
  • Exit Strategy

Everyone kept telling me to read these books because I’d love them and I’m not sure why I waited so long because they were absolutely right. They were also right in that I’d find a lot of common ground with Murderbot. You see, Murderbot–what the unnamed SecUnit AI calls their self–is not that fond of people, is a bit prickly, finds work kind of annoying, and wants nothing more than to binge read books and watch tv shows. Murderbot, why are you so much like me? Also, Murderbot struggles with anxiety, which is one of the reasons they bury themselves in media so much. Hmmm, sounds familiar.

If you’re looking for a series with a great character arc, you can’t do much better than The Murderbot Diaries. This is a story about how SecUnit begins to change. They’re not always happy about changing, they don’t want to be human-like and find it disgusting and uncomfortable, but they do start to learn that maybe having friends and caring for others isn’t always so bad. Unlike a lot of stories about AI, which seem to be about what it means to be human, this seems to be about what it means to be this particular AI.

Throughout their journey, Murderbot encounters many different people and other AI. I think one of my favorites is ART, a transport ship that (who?) helps Murderbot quite a bit in one of the installments. It’s interesting to compare Murderbot’s interactions with ART  (and other AI like Miki) vs Murderbot’s interactions with the humans they encounter. They’re much more comfortable interacting with other AI, but even still I think they’d rather be on their own for the most part.

And yet, time and again Murderbot gets drawn into human affairs, helping them out of sticky situations. Although Murderbot is a SecUnit and they’re programmed to watch out for people, they’re not obliged in any of these situations other than the initial job they had in the first book. So why do they feel compelled to step in? This is something they struggle with, this need to help. As much as they love binge watching media, maybe that’s not fulfilling enough for them. Does a bot even need to find something fulfilling? These are the themes explored in the series.

I love the voice of Murderbot. So dry and sarcastic. But not in a sharp way that cuts and is hurtful. When it comes down to it, these books would be nothing without the voice of the SecUnit written in such a clever and endearing way. Even though Murderbot wants to run away all the time you can’t help but want to give them a hug.

Overall, I love this series and can’t recommend them enough. I think the author does a great job of writing AI characters while making them completely accessible. I love everything about Murderbot. Average 5/5 stars.

 

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20 thoughts on “Book Review: The Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells

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  1. I’ve been slowly working my way through the Murderbot Diaries myself – just finished Artificial Condition this weekend! I really do love watching this character grapple with its emotions and what exactly it feels obligated to do in any given circumstance.

    1. It was TOTALLY fun to binge! Really loved these. Oh! Just found out Martha Wells is going to the the GOH at the Capclave convention next year (the DC area SFF convention) so I guess I’m gonna have to go to that. 🙂

  2. This sounds like such an awesome series!! That’s really cool that it doesn’t just explore what it means for an AI to be human. And it’s so cool that the voice was so good- I love dry and sarcastic. Awesome review!

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