Book Review: Network Effect (Murderbot Diaries #5) by Martha Wells

Network Effect (Murderbot Diaries #5) by Martha Wells

352 pages

Publication: 5/5/20 by Tor.com

ISBN: 9781250229861

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 3 out of 5.

B&N | Amazon

Thank you to Tor.com for the early physical copy in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads Synopsis:

Murderbot returns in its highly-anticipated, first, full-length standalone novel.

You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you’re a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you’re Murderbot.

Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century.

I’m usually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are.

When Murderbot’s human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

Drastic action it is, then.

Review:

Did I enjoy this one more than the novellas? No. Will I miss Murderbot if this truly is the end? Absolutely.

I was super excited about a full-length novel involving Murderbot, but 350 pages of pure science fiction, for someone who isn’t fluent in the genre (yet), is a lot to process. I’m working on it, and this is a step in the right direction. I know this shouldn’t affect my rating but, unfortunately; it does. Here’s why:

The writing can get very convoluted at times. I’m not going to lie, a lot of this novel went over my head. Some wording threw me off, and it all took me out of the story. I don’t even know if I can thoroughly explain what happened all the way through the book.

I would love to go back and reread the four novellas that created my love for Murderbot. It’s been a bit since I read them, so I’m interested to see how I feel about them now. Did I actually understand them as much as I thought I did? If I ever do reread them, I will keep you all updated.

I think if the middle third of the book was removed, I would have enjoyed it a bit more. I love this series for its action, and there’s not a lot in this one. That’s not to say that I didn’t love the banter between Murderbot, the humans, and ART (Asshole Research Transport or Perihelion). I enjoyed the throwbacks to previous novellas and all of those characters. Many, many references to GrayCris and old memories with ART. You can feel the love that Murderbot has for ART, even though it doesn’t want to admit it. I also loved the references to Murderbot’s roots—where it all started.

I will not deny that there is some good character building in this one. We get tidbits of background information on random characters, which is a nice breath of fresh air. I don’t think I go into these novels for that, though. I’m not a huge character-driven reader. I thrive on plot, but I do love me a balanced novel.

The ending is very bittersweet. It did satisfy my Murderbot needs, and it was open enough to either end it there or continue. I wouldn’t mind either one. I’m sure a series like this could go on forever, but it’s probably smart to stop before it starts to drag.


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