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BOOK REVIEW

all systems red

by martha wells

REVIEW BY Ben from Literature & Lofi

What it is about?

“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

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.

“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.”

“Rogue robots, conspiracies and binging soap operas”

Sounds like my typical weekend. It’s also Muderbot’s life. Murderbot is passed from client to client by it’s company to operate as a security tool.
 
But Muderbot’s latest clients seem different from the usual employers. They’re more interested in it’s behaviour and well being. Something is off about the planet they’re stationed at. And together with it’s employer’s, Murderbot is going to find out what.
 
It’s a sweet sci-fi novella packed with character and emotion. We get a first person perspective of Murderbot’s experiences. Murderbot doesn’t feel like a trope. Murderbot is a real, has serious anxiety, is conscious of everyone around it and like me, loves to mindlessly binge soap operas.
 
As the story progresses, Murderbot and the team begin to uncover secrets. It’s not about the story as such, but the characters and the relationships which develop. It’s quite funny watching humans interact with a robot, realising there’s common ground, shared emotions and even humour.
 
The pacing sways a bit, but for first person prose, it’s pretty damn solid. I loved the resolution and I felt satisfied with how this debut novella wraps up. The humour is well timed and at points you feel emotionally connected to our protagonist, Murderbot.
 
The motives and goals our characters have are more than believable. I struggled with the “antagonists” of this novel, and I use that term loosely as they don’t have too much page time. Which I get is tricky with a novella.
 
This is certainly a great weekend read. It’s short, charming, sessionable and like a good whisky will only get better with age and revisits.
 
Read this book if you enjoy: Reading relatable human emotions, like sci-fi with a quirky twist, want a quick burnable read and a hint of suspense and mystery.
 
If you like the following books you may want to give this a go: Recursion. I Robot. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.  Dresden Files.
 
The Final Verdict: 8 out of 10 

Benjamin from Literature & lofi

benjamin

Hey the name’s Benjamin from Literature & Lofi. You can find me posting weekly videos on my booktube channel or on Twitter shouting about my love for Dresden Files out into the void. Reading, reviewing and recording is something I love to do in my free time which is steadily requiring more and more caffeine as the channel builds momentum. My passion for the fantasy genre was reignited a couple years ago. Now I’m trying to make up for lost time by reading some of the big household names, while also advocating for indie/SelfPub books. (A section of the SFF community that is growing rapidly). My goal is to spark constructive discussions within the reading community. I try to be a positive reviewer, looking for the strengths in books and critically considering who they are perfect for. Recently I’ve gained an interest in urban fantasy and the next year will entail me diving much deeper into that sub-genre. My guilty pleasure is reading romantic fantasy. I’m also beginning to dip my toes into grimdark. Champion of #IndieAugust Creator of #FebruarySheWrote

LiteratureAndLofi

LiteratureAndLofi

Hey the name's Benjamin from Literature & Lofi. You can find me posting weekly videos on my booktube channel or on Twitter shouting about my love for Dresden Files out into the void. Reading, reviewing and recording is something I love to do in my free time which is steadily requiring more and more caffeine as the channel builds momentum. My passion for the fantasy genre was reignited a couple years ago. Now I'm trying to make up for lost time by reading some of the big household names, while also advocating for indie/SelfPub books. (A section of the SFF community that is growing rapidly). My goal is to spark constructive discussions within the reading community. I try to be a positive reviewer, looking for the strengths in books and critically considering who they are perfect for. Recently I've gained an interest in urban fantasy and the next year will entail me diving much deeper into that sub-genre. My guilty pleasure is reading romantic fantasy. I'm also beginning to dip my toes into grimdark. Champion of #IndieAugust Creator of #FebruarySheWrote

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