Book review · novella

Book review: All Systems Red

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1), by Martha Wells

allsystemsred_finalDescription: (from Macmillan)

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.
But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Expected publication: May 2nd 2017, part of the Summer Line-Up
A review copy (e-galley) of this book was provided by the publisher. Some things might change in the final copy.

A story set on a distant planet and focusing on some kind of robot (or SecUnit) in charge of security for a team of scientists just couldn’t go wrong. I actually started reading this novella without reading anything about it. I was expecting a bit more action or violence since the series has the word “Murderbot” in it, which (surprisingly) led me to believe there would be lots of murder. Still, I was nicely surprised when I dived in a story that really focuses on what’s happening inside the main character’s head and the relationship (or absence of) between him and the other characters.

The first page (yes it’s a first page, I set the font size very large haha) did the trick, I was sold:

“I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As an heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.”

The team has a number of scientists and at first I was not motivated to try and remember everyone’s name and just didn’t make any effort for this. I still ended up knowing a little bit of info about all of them and having no difficulty whatsoever to know who was who. Just like the SecUnit, I didn’t care about them and ended up warming up to them in the course of the story.

“That sounded like a great plan, in that it didn’t involve me.”

The main character is some kind of robot, or man-machine who pirated itself (it clearly uses the pronoun “it” so I’ll be using it as well here) and enjoys being alone, watching any kind of entertainment. What’s not to love about this? This SecUnit is also super relaxed, blasé and snarky, bored about everything, just getting on with life and what it has to do to be left alone. Except when it has to interact with humans, then it is the most awkward of all the SecUnits. To avoid interacting with the humans it works with, it keeps its armor and helmet on at all times. That made me think of the kids who wear a hat or a knit cap on at all time because they feel safer that way.

“What was I supposed to do, kill all humans because the ones in charge of constructs in the company were callous? Granted, I liked the imaginary people on the entertainment feed way more than I liked the real ones, but you can’t have one without the other.”

I laughed, I giggled, and I was on the edge of my seat. The way All Systems Red was written stroke a chord with me and it left me deeply content, thankful for such a nice story. Even while writing this review and rereading all the passages I had highlighted (or rather, the PAGES), I was laughing and hurting that I couldn’t quote everything or even hand this novella to everyone just like that.

This novella really left me with a warm feeling. I cannot wait to read more on this Murderbot Series. This one and Killing Gravity are my favourite novellas from 2017 so far! All Systems Red was only 87 pages on my ereader but it didn’t felt too short at all. It left me wanting more, but I don’t think it lacked of anything. I really need to take a look at the other stories Martha Wells has written because I loved everything here!

Read an excerpt here!

14 thoughts on “Book review: All Systems Red

  1. Good to know. I have been hit or miss with Wells in the past, more miss to be honest. But her Star Wars book showed me should do good sci-fi and a novella isn’t that much of a commitment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re the second one telling me how Wells hadn’t been a great read in the past! I’ll have to lower my expectations haha! — Yes it’s a short read so I’d recommend you give it a try anyway, it was great fun for me!


  2. Personally, I love all Well’s work. Her stories are always witty and filled with dry humor, and she’s spot on with subtle world building, deftly painting brilliant pictures of the worlds she creates without anything remotely resembling a heavy hand. I’ve yet to read a novel or novella by her that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was so so good!! I have had The Cloud Roads on my want-to-read GR list for a very long while, reading All Systems Red made me even more excited to read it!
      And omg I didn’t know about Razor’s Edge, it sounds awesome!!!


  3. I’m also a huge Wells fan. She does snark better than anyone and her sense of humor aligns perfectly with mine.

    I particularly adore the characters in her Fall of Ile-Rien Trilogy. Fast-paced plotting, fabulous world-building. The series is a comfort read for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes I LOVED the sense of humor here!!

      I had The Cloud Roads on my want-to-read list on goodreads but I added The Element of Fire now! Thank you 😀 I’m really excited to read more from Martha Wells! 😀


  4. I completely missed the fact that this is a novella! Oops. xD

    I hope you do read some of Martha Wells’ other books. I’ve only read the Raksura series, but I really like it. (Except for the most recent one, which I thought was painfully boring. /o\)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! I always try to repeat it several times when a book is a novella because I’ve seen so many times people being disappointed when they buy a book online and found out how short it is when they get it x’) I like when it states “a novella” on the cover, under the title!

      So many people commented about her other books and I’m very excited to read them yes 😀 (Ha yes, I’m trying to keep my expectations not too high because some love them and some not at all, it’s crazy!)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m very excited to get my hands on this novella! I have been reading Martha Wells since I was twelve, so I can quite safely say that her work is very rereadable and enjoyable. She’s definitely one of my favourite authors! Her stories are very humorous and human – even when the characters are not.

    You won’t be disappointed with her books, I’m sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’ve heard from so many of her fans since posting this review, I’m really excited to read more of her books now, even more than before!
      And I’m sure you will love All Systems Red then! 😀


  6. J’ai vraiment eu la même expérience de lecture avec All Systems Red ! Comment ne pas créer de l’empathie avec un robot dont l’une des grosses peurs est qu’on découvre qu’il s’est hacké entre autre pour regarder des séries les unes à la suite de l’autre ?
    Par contre, j’ai tenté ensuite The Clouds Roads (le tome 1 de Books of the Raksura – en plus recommandé avec passion par N.K.Jemisin). Même si ça se lit bien jusqu’au bout, j’ai trouvé que ça manquait du charme et du piquant de All Systems Red. Ca me donnait l’impression qu’elle avait enfin trouvé avec SecUnit un héros qui fait ressortir et amplifie toutes ses qualités d’écrivaine, qui étaient bien là auparavant, mais sans briller véritablement. Je ne sais pas si tu as fini par tenter l’aventure aussi ?


    1. Oui tellement! (Le fait qu’il soit sérivore et souffre d’anxiété et de dépression peut aider hahah)

      Ha je vais revoir mes espérances à la baisse alors au cas où!
      Pas encore mais cette année j’espère enfin m’y lancer! 😀


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