[Read as an audiobook from the public library]
This has been on my to-read list for a while, but it’s always checked out when I’m in the mood to read it. But this time, I said to myself, “Duh, get the audiobook.” And so I did.
This is such a quick, enjoyable read. The story doesn’t really break any new ground, and the plot beats are fairly predictable, but for all that it’s still fun and a well-built world that I don’t mind spending time in.
We basically start off already in the middle of things, with our protagonist Security Unit doing its job and providing narration via its internal dialog. This SecUnit calls itself Murderbot, because that’s essentially its purpose — it is a cyborg designed to provide security services to various clients. Humans make it uncomfortable when they start asking too many questions, and frustrated when they don’t behave rationally. Its main hobby, which nobody knows about, is watching this world’s equivalent of soap operas. Murderbot has learned how to slack off doing its job and basically spend most of its time watching media. Murderbot does not have, and emphatically is not interested in having, a gender. Murderbot is basically #lifegoals.
So in this first installment, we get to know Murderbot and the crew that basically breaks through its determination to not care about its job as much as possible. Action scenes happen, Murderbot does some very cool things, the day is saved. This feels like essentially a setup to more stories, which of course it is.
The audiobook, read by Kevin Free, is very well done. Free voices characters differently from one another, which is always a huge plus. The only drawback with this is if you picture Murderbot with a more feminine voice or presentation (it would not care for that) or a totally robotic, completely non-gender voice (which I don’t think would work within the plot, even though Murderbot might prefer it), Free will obviously skew that for you. I rather automatically defaulted to Standard Male Protagonist Character in my head (basically the most boring male version of Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard), so it didn’t bother me, but mileage may vary as always.
I found myself liking Murderbot more and more as the story progressed. It’s definitely not an innately “likeable” character, but it’s awkward and funny and honest. It’s like a much less depressed Marvin, and I’m definitely looking forward to spending a lot more time with it.