Friday, April 23, 2021

Network Effect by Martha Wells: review

5/5 stars on Goodreads

Network Effect by Martha Wells

Network Effect is the fifth book in Martha Wells’ The Murderbot Diaries sci-fi series of a rogue security construct, SecUnit (part organic, part mechanical, all sarcastic). It’s also the first full-length one.

I was really eager to read a longer Murderbot book, and it didn’t disappoint. Murderbot, the SecUnit who has freed itself from its governor module that can kill it, finds itself—for the first time—in a fairly good place. The threat to Dr. Mensah by GrayCris Corporation is practically over and it can choose what it wants to do. It wants to provide security for a science expedition by its favourite humans and Dr. Mensah’s daughter Amena.

Everything is going fairly well, when they’re attacked by a ship Murderbot knows very well, the one powered by ART (asshole research transport), as Murderbot calls the AI. ART has been compromised by alien looking creatures and is effectively dead. So Murderbot sets out to save ART—not its friend, no matter what Amena says—whilst keeping its humans safe.

The plot is constant action and involves abandoned colonies, hostile corporations, cyber-attacks, and explosions. But for the first time, there’s also a lot of room for Murderbot to reflect its existence, concept of friendship, and what it wants to do with its freedom. It does all this in a very Murderbot fashion by denying everything and being grumpy and sarcastic. But it also grows a lot as a person.

The book ends at a crossroads for Murderbot. But instead of revealing where it’ll go from here, the next book goes back in time to events before Network Effect. It’s again a shorter one, but hopefully we’ll get another full-length book after that. Murderbot has a lot to offer us yet.


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