Book Review: All Systems Red by Martha Wells


Title: All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1)

Author: Martha Wells

Release date: May 2nd, 2017

Oddly, it was actually a recommendation by Patrick Rothfuss on Goodreads that first brought this book to my attention. I’m a big Rothfuss fan and he posted a glowing review which made me want to dive in and read this…

And so I did, four years later! Ha! Ah, jeez, our TBR’s are something else.

So, after all this time, guess what? I pretty much forgot what this book was about, other than a future world with robotic guards. I think it might’ve worked in my favor to dive in without re-reading the synopsis.

What I liked: ‘All Systems Red’ wastes no time with introducing us to our main character, an augmented being designed to work as a security guard. Think of it like Robocop to a degree. Only in this case, the character which has termed itself Murderbot has hacked its own system to not blindly follow the orders of the mainframe network that controls it.

Normally I’m not a big fan of humor in my horror or sci-fi, but the Murderbot has developed its own personality and it is a slacker who enjoys watching hours of TV programming and employs sarcasm and jokes as it sees fit. It works really well when in the presence of humans and seeing how Wells made it also shy regarding its appearance when out of its armor was a really fantastic move. It nicely elevated the character from an aloof killing machine to an empathetic member of the group.

The main plot of the story is that something happens near them and the Murderbot and the group its assigned to protect unravel what it happening and why they’re in danger. It made for some truly tense moments and even though this was a short, quick read, Wells packed it with a novels worth of emotion and turmoil.

What I didn’t like: Even though I knew this was a part 1 and that it was novella length, I found the ending was a bit rushed for me, especially when they confront the danger (sorry spoiler free!). I wished it was described a bit more, because suddenly it felt like we were at an epilogue style chapter and I worried I’d missed the ending.

Why you should buy this: Often times I hear people say the reason they avoid Sci-Fi is that it’s got too much technology or they feel like they need to be an Astrophysicist to understand what is going on. Not here. Wells tells a straightforward story – with sci-fi elements – and I had no problems understanding what was happening and who the characters were.

This was a really fun time and I’m not going to be waiting another four years until I start book 2!


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