A friend from my book club is constantly recommending science-fiction novels that I strongly dislike. It’s not that I hate science fiction, but it’s not my go-to genre, and she has honestly picked some very bad books. So when she recommended All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries (2017) by Martha Wells, I began it with more than a little trepidation.
All Systems Red is a novella about a “Secunit,” basically a robot with some organic parts that is built and rented out to be used for security. The Secunit at the center of this story has hacked its governor, so it’s able to think and make decisions for itself. The first decision it made as a free Secunit was to watch as many hours on the entertainment feed as it could get away with.
Currently, the Secunit is working on a remote planet with a small research group. It had been an uneventful job until they are attacked by a monster that claws through the earth. Suddenly, the Secunit is using all of his knowledge and ingenuity to keep himself and the group alive.
I enjoyed this book much more than I expected. Because I was listening to it on audiobook, I had a difficult time with the names of the humans at first. I’m very visual, and when I don’t know how to spell something, I have a hard time remembering it. So, until I actually took a look at the Kindle version of the book, most of the human characters just ran together.
What made this book fun was the character of the Secunit, who calls himself Murderbot. He is funny and relatable, but also powerful and resourceful. Although he is treated like a commodity, he seems to have deep feelings. He’s uncomfortable with intimacy, though, because he’s always stayed away from people. He comes to like the research group and their leader, Dr. Mensah, and goes out of his way to protect them. However, he is not developed enough to have real relationships. Wells does a great job with Murderbot’s personality and development. She is subtle with Murderbot’s uncertainty and yearning for more, which makes it feel even more relatable.
I’m sure my friend will be happy that I finally liked one of her recommendations. In fact, I liked it so much that I plan on reading the next book in the series. This time, though, I’m reading it on my Kindle, so I get the full reading experience.
You can find all my reviews on my blog.