I feel like just making that one word and its accompanying symbol my entire review, but that would be doing a disservice to the book and also to anyone potentially reading this review who has not yet let Murderbot into their lives.
Murderbot is life. Murderbot is love.
Just kidding. If Murderbot saw me talking about Murderbot like this, Murderbot would be appalled. Murderbot is all about not dealing with feelings at all costs. Which is too bad, because as a newly free individual (albeit a rogue one), dealing with feelings (including those of other people) is kind of a necessary part of being alive in the world.
(I feel bad misgendering Murderbot, whom I persist in visualizing as male but who is in fact gender neutral and asexual, happily so. I used “he” and “him” in my first review, because that’s how I picture Murderbot. But I also don’t want to refer to a living, thinking, lovely being like Murderbot as “it.” It seems demeaning. So I’m just going to type Murderbot one thousand million times.)
The progression of these novels seems to me to be tracking Murderbot’s development into personhood. The first novella ended with a sort of freedom being obtained, but Murderbot has no experience actually living as a person in the world. This novella finds Murderbot traveling back to a pivotal moment, before Murderbot’s memories were erased. When Murderbot earned the name Murderbot by murdering the people he* was supposed to protect. Murderbot needs to know why this happened, and by finding answers, hopes to find some sort of revelatory path for the future.
*It’s so hard not to use pronouns, you guys.
This really reminds me a lot of Breq in the Ann Leckie Imperial Radch books, except these books are a lot more funny, and much more accessible (not to mention shorter). But it’s the same discovery of personhood, and making decisions on how to be and do things. Murderbot is too kind for Murderbot’s own good, and the world Murderbot lives in isn’t one that’s super conducive to the person Murderbot seems to be becoming, but it makes for good conflict.
Plus, in this one Murderbot makes a friend! It’s name is ART. I won’t say what that stands for 😀
I am very excited that the last two books in this series are coming soon, the next in August, and the one after that in October.