All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1)

Title: All Systems Red

Author: Martha Wells

Series: The Murderbot Diaries #1

A team of researchers are conducting tests on a newly discovered planet’s surface, accompanied by one company-provided SecUnit that privately calls itself Murderbot. Although Murderbot behaves like the equipment it’s supposed to be, it actually overrode some of its own programming so it can function more autonomously. And that becomes critical when unexpected dangers arise . . .

I liked this well enough, but it’s far too short. Murderbot is the only character with significant development—the team is fleshed out enough to see why Murderbot appreciates their low-stress interactions, but ultimately it means most of the team was interchangeable for me, except for the enhanced human (because he was the only one Murderbot felt cautious about, and not unreasonably, given his suspicions towards it in return).

It was funny to find that someone who calls itself “Murderbot” is a huge introvert who doesn’t actually like people at all. Murderbot would rather watch entertainment than deal with actual humanity.

Most of the fight scenes felt poorly described, as well. Murderbot narrates several gunfights with little more than “and here’s where each bullet hit” kind of description, which made it hard to feel much of a flow to the fighting or much of a sense of danger. I was very annoyed where one fight described all the damage to the opposing forces first, and only then cataloged Murderbot’s injuries. My initial impression had been that Murderbot somehow hadn’t been hit, since segregating things that way feels like it drains all the tension out of a fight.

Overall this was interesting enough that I will probably read the next book, but between the short length and the lack of anything that really grabbed me, it’s not on my buy list. (Besides, the ebook price is insane. The book is only 140 pages long.) I rate this book Recommended.

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