Narrator: Kevin R. Free
Genres: Science-Fiction, Hopepunk
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Buy on Amazon/Audible
The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells, is a series concerning a violent, self-hacking robot searching for the meaning of life. All Systems Red, the first book in the series, received the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards. It was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.
This review is of not one but all the books published in this series to this date (February 2021), which are:
- All Systems Red (#1)
- Artificial Condition (#2)
- Rogue Protocol (#3)
- Exit Strategy (#4)
- Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory (The Murderbot Diaries, #4.5)
- Network Effect (#5)
- Fugitive Telemetry (#6)
All books are also published as audiobooks, except for Home (#4.5), which is a short story from the point of view of Dr. Mensah. My review is of the audiobooks, plus the kindle version of Home. My first intention was to review each separate book but life got busy as I’ve just changed jobs, and I loved Murderbot so much that I binge listened to all books from beginning to end.
All Systems Red caught me off guard and trapped me from the start. I couldn’t stop listening. Who was this human-bot construct that was so relatable in its awkwardness when interacting with humans? It was impossible not to feel moved by its fears, obsessions, and despair. I think many of us have a murderbot inside of us, and hearing its thoughts described in such a candid way almost moved me to tears. Also, who doesn’t want to forget about everything and curl up to binge-watch series until the world ends as an anesthetic for human pain? I know I want that, Murderbot does too.
Murderbot is a human-bot construct that has been engineered as a killing machine by a security company to be hired to protect a specific set of clients. There’s one particularity about Murderbot, and it’s that it hacked its governor module on a previous mission, something the company doesn’t know. Murderbot is lucky enough this time to get a more than decent crew to protect, but things soon go sideways, as they should in any interesting story. The action and adventure were gripping, but I have to say that my favorite part of this series is how Murderbot evolves into someone completely different and with a lot more depth than we initially expected. Watch out too for its interactions with ART. It’s just absolutely amazing!
Regarding the quality consistency, I loved all books in the series, but Fugitive Telemetry was not as good as the rest. Also, this book was published as the sixth in the series but the events happen before book 5, so I recommend reading them in reverse order (that is, the 6th and then the 5th). I was lucky to get this recommendation from a friend and I’m happy I listened to them. All books are novellas, with a duration of about 3 hours, except Network Effect, which has a duration of almost 13 hours.
Murderbot story doesn’t end with Network Effect, as Martha Wells has signed a contract with Tordotcom last year to write three more books in the series. I’m impatient to see what happens next.
All books are narrated by Kevin R. Free, which does a wonderful job at interpreting Murderbot and transmitting its sarcasm and its feelings of unease and total despair. Free’s different voices for the cast were well crafted and different in subtle ways, which made following the story easy. His interpretation of Murderbot is though, my favorite thing about his narration.
I highly recommend this series to everyone. Even if you’re not into sci-fi, you need a Murderbot in your life. This is a story about friendship, humanity, and finding one’s true self.
P.S.: There’s also a tiny prequel published on Wired: The Future of Work: Compulsory.
My name is Elena. Since I was a little child I loved science fiction and fantasy, and I can’t resist a good novel. In 2015, while wait I started to listen to audiobooks and I discovered the pleasure in being able to read while doing my daily tasks, so there’s always an audiobook playing on my phone. If you see me with my Bluetooth headphones on, please be gentle, I get easily startled.
I live with my boyfriend, which I met during my six-year stay in Belgium, four cockatiels, eight lovebirds, and a hamster in Madrid, Spain; and I like to spend my free time knitting and sewing while listening to audiobooks.