As I mentioned in my previous review of Rogue Protocol, I did start this final novella of the series immediately after the previous one ended because I don’t have sang patience and I didn’t wanna wait. And wow do I feel rewarded for doing that.
I think the author did plan to end the story of Murderbot in this novella, so everything comes full circle here and I loved every second of it. The writing is heart wrenching and emotional, while also being extremely dangerous and high stakes and totally action packed. I was really worried for the characters’ safety on multiple occasions and kudos to the author for keeping up that tension. The plot also becomes much more expansive because we finally get to see the tactics of the villains and the extent to which they’ll go for their nefarious purposes. Despite all this, the humor and entertainment factor that’s the highlight of this series is still intact, and it was a joy being back in the head of Murderbot and listening to its sarcastic voice.
I never discussed the themes that the author tries to capture throughout the series but it would be remiss if I didn’t now. We see Murderbot grapple with the question of what it means to be human, does it really want to be one even though it is increasingly empathizing with them and how much agency does it have in its own life. On a larger scale, we see giant corporations trying to use their influence and power to perform illegal activities and harm anyone who comes in their way – it was eerily reminiscent of our real life; on the other hand, we also have a group of humans from one non political entity trying to fight for everybody’s rights and providing safety for refugees. And it was nice to see the message that we have to treat each other kindly, and let people (or Murderbot) make their own choices and provide them whatever support we can – and this will lead to good outcomes.
Murderbot is amazing and you all already know how much I love it. It was at its most vulnerable this time around because it finally goes back to find Dr. Mensah and the preservation group, and I found its worries about how they would react to it so heartbreaking. It’s struggle with not wanting to feel emotions or attached to humans is kinda adorable because it’s obvious that this group of humans matters to it, even though it hates that. And I loved that the humans, and Dr. Mensah never gave up on it either. They all make for a great team and I loved watching them together. And I can’t help but adore the fact that every time Murderbot feels some anxiety, it starts binge watching it’s favorite shows and it’s hilarious because I do the exact same thing. What more can I want than a super powerful Murderbot that I can relate to.
To conclude, this novella was the perfect finale to this series and I’m so happy that I read them back to back because it was such a joy. If you are looking for some fun sci-fi which also explores the themes of identity and freedom, then you can’t go wrong with this series. I promise that it is full of laughs but also unexpected tears, and just an overall delight to read. The audiobooks are also pretty awesome, and really capture the tone and voice of Murderbot perfectly. While the story arc that started in All Systems Red is complete, I’m glad that we are getting a new stand-alone novel and I’ve heard rumor that a certain transport vessel might make an appearance, so I’m very very excited for the release of Network Effect. It can’t come soon enough!!