Book Review: Exit Strategy by Martha Wells (Five Stars)


Book Review: Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells

(Five Stars)

“I’m a SecUnit, not an engineer.”

This is what comes of giving five star ratings. When Wells writes an even better story, there’s no higher rating to give. Rats. This story reads as if Martha (sorry for the familiarity, but I feel I’ve been in her head; first names sound more appropriate) and her buds got together, popped a few brews, and discussed how they could improve on the already snarky, wonderful humor of her first three murderbot outings. Here it is! Better than ever.

“I was the only one here, so I braced myself and made the ultimate sacrifice. ‘Uh, you can hug me if you need to.’ She started to laugh, then her face did something complicated and she hugged me. I upped the temperature in my chest and told myself it was like first aid.”

Well’s take on self-aware—not to mention self-hacked—artificial intelligences breaks new ground. Murderbot is a delight. He holds a mirror to the inconsistencies and humor of human actions.

“I sounded sulky, because I was sulky. I hate emotions.”

Quibble: Given all the “enhancements” it’s hard to believe that SecUnits have organic knees. Can’t see them handling the weight and stresses of said enhancements. (Spoken as one whose organic knees have barely weathered seventy years of unenhanced use.) Also, once she cleared the aforementioned friends, she needed to proofread the text: she used “was” five times in the three-sentence second paragraph. Slows the flow.

“I like endless historical family drama serials, but in real life, ghosts are more annoying.”

While each installation is a satisfying whole, new readers should start with All Systems Red, Murderbot #1. With this fourth installment, Wells brings her introductory series to a close. Avid readers can only hope there’ll be more.

“’We tend to think that because a bot or a construct looks humans, its ultimate goal would be to become human.’ ‘That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.’”