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

It calls itself Murderbot, but only when no-one can hear. It’s a private joke. Funny.

It doesn’t care, it tells itself, and its attachment to the humans around it is merely professional obligation.

It tries to never drop the F-bomb.



So, when its 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.

Another F-bomb.



RUNNING TIME ➜ 13hrs. and 15mins.

©2020 Martha Wells (P)2020 Recorded Books

350 pages, Hardcover

First published May 5, 2020

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About the author

Martha Wells

89 books15.7k followers
Martha Wells has been a science fiction and fantasy author since her first fantasy novel was published in 1993. Her New York Times Bestselling series The Murderbot Diaries has won Nebula Awards, Hugo Awards, Locus Awards, and an American Library Association/YALSA Alex Award. Her work also includes The Books of the Raksura series, the Ile-Rien series, and several other fantasy novels, most recently Witch King (Tordotcom, 2023), as well as short fiction, non-fiction, and media tie-ins for Star Wars, Stargate: Atlantis, and Magic: The Gathering. Her work has also appeared on the Philip K. Dick Award ballot, the British Science Fiction Association Award ballot, the USA Today Bestseller List, and has been translated into twenty-four languages.

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Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
September 13, 2020
4.5 stars. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Martha Wells’ Murderbot has been gathering enthusiastic fans (which would be certain to have Murderbot hiding behind its opaque armored faceplate), along with multiple Nebula, Hugo and other awards and nominations, as each of the first four novellas in the MURDERBOT DIARIES series has been published over the last three years. In Network Effect, the first full-length novel in this series, Wells is able to explore a more complex plot and to more fully develop Murderbot’s character and its relationships with others.

Murderbot is now with Dr. Mensah and the other Preservation Station characters who Murderbot was protecting in the first book, All Systems Red, and the fourth, Exit Strategy. Preservation is an unusually liberal society in this universe, where single-minded, coldhearted corporate profit-making is the norm, and Mensah and her family and friends treat Murderbot, who they call “SecUnit,”as a person rather than as a possession. Mensah’s brother-in-law Thiago, however, is suspicious of Murderbot’s influence over Mensah, and Mensah’s adolescent daughter Amana considers Murderbot an annoyance, especially after it scared off someone she thought was a romantic interest (“Yes, it was hilarious”).

As Network Effect begins, Murderbot is accompanying Thiago, Amana and several others on a survey expedition of another planet. After surviving an encounter with pirates — where Murderbot gets a chance to flex its muscles and show its expertise as a security consultant — the group lifts off the planet to rejoin their base ship in space. Just after the base ship exits a wormhole on its return to Preservation Station, there’s another attack on their group. This one succeeds in capturing Murderbot and Amena in their spacesuits and pulling them onboard the raider ship. Murderbot is completely bewildered to discover that the ship that attacked them is its old friend ART (an acronym for “Asshole Research Transport”) from Artificial Condition. But ART, the powerful artificial intelligence that controls the ship Perihelion, is nowhere to be found once they’re onboard the ship. Instead there are gray-skinned hostile humans that immediately try to kill Murderbot. Now it’s on!

The bot and AI characters — Murderbot, ART, and a couple of new ones — are absolutely fantastic. Murderbot’s and ART’s friendship (though Murderbot would be really reluctant to call it a friendship) gets a lot more complicated and real, especially after Murderbot thinks ART has betrayed it. One of the subplots features sentient killware, a lethal kind of spyware/malware, which was one of the best parts of this book, fascinating and unexpectedly poignant. Murderbot takes some substantial steps forward in its self-understanding and in deciding what it wants to do with its life. The right of self-determination for all sentient intelligences is an ongoing theme in Network Effect.

In addition to Murderbot’s favorite human Dr. Mensah, a couple of other human characters start to stand out, including Mensah’s daughter Amena, who has a way of cutting through Murderbot’s protective shell. Wells has a degree in anthropology, which explains a lot about how well she writes the relationships and interactions between people and bots in this series. The title “Network Effect” has at least two different meanings: it’s a key aspect of the enemy Murderbot and its friends and allies face in this novel, but it also references the growing and changing ties between Murderbot and its human and non-human friends. Murderbot still hates the F-word — that would be “feelings” — and it likes to snark about humans’ stupid decisions, but it’s now willing to admit that it cares about people and actually enjoys helping and protecting them.
A little of the tension went out of her body. “Thank you.” Her face looked younger. She looked like she had been pretending to have hope and now she didn’t have to pretend anymore.

(Confession time: that moment, when the humans or augmented humans realize you’re really here to help them. I don’t hate that moment.)
Network Effect isn’t perfect: the pace lags in parts and the plot gets overly convoluted and confusing in the second half. One significant aspect of the key danger that the characters face doesn’t make sense to me logically.

But the good parts of Network Effect are just SO good that they completely outweigh any plot weaknesses. One more example: There’s a bit with some “HelpMe.file” excerpts that Wells uses to good effect to relate some of the backstory. They’re initially a bit of a headscratcher, if only because of their odd headers, but when the payoff comes much later in the book, it's a brilliant plot turn.

Murderbot — both the character and the series — has grown on me immensely with each book in the series. Murderbot may be a cyborg, but it’s one of the most human and appealing characters I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

Update 5/1/20: Rereading as of yesterday. I started looking at my ARC yesterday evening so I could write my full review, then I said to myself “I’ll just reread the first 50 pages or so,” and now I’m on page 200. DON’T JUDGE ME.

Comments after first read: 4.5 stars - it was great! The only thing better than a Murderbot novella is a full Murderbot novel ... with ART (the Asshole Research Transport) in it. Review to come! Cheers!! I'm sorry most of my Murderbot-loving GR friends have to wait until May 2020 to get this, but I promise it's worth the wait.

Initial post: A copy of the ARC of this book landed on my doorstep today!! I literally gasped in delight. What a fantastic surprise! Thank you Tor!!

Profile Image for Nataliya.
781 reviews12.4k followers
December 19, 2021
Hugo Award *and* Nebula Award winner for Best Novel *and* Locus Magazine Award winner for Best Science Fiction Novel.

Yup, Murderbot is the absolute best SecUnit out there. Am I ecstatic? Take one guess.
“(You know, if you don’t want to be manually eviscerated with your own energy weapon then maybe you shouldn’t go around killing research transports and antagonizing rogue SecUnits.)”
I finally figured out that one of the reasons I love Murderbot so much is that it’s my soul-sibling. MB’s preemptive pessimism and expectation of the worst case scenario every time it is faced with a new problem is exactly my modus operandi, although I’m rather good at concealing it.
“I was worried about Mensah, if everything had been okay while I was gone. I wasn’t sure exactly what “okay” would involve, but I was willing to settle for “unmurdered.”

“It was too dark for her to see my expression. I’m not sure what it was but you could probably describe it as “skeptical.” (Ratthi says that’s how I look most of the time.)”

This is the first full-length Murderbot novel, following four amazing novellas that I only discovered a couple of weeks ago, but already cannot remember what life was like without Murderbot in it. (I kid, I kid - well, mostly.) In typical Murderbot fashion we have all the snarky sarcastic grumpiness of our prickly media-obsessed nonhuman person who is secretly a softie, but if you mention the f-word () to it you have only yourself to blame for what’s going to follow. We have space exploration and space raiders and alien abductors and sentient killware and contamination by alien remnants, and space flight and explosions and other stuff that tends to result in the catastrophic systems failure and forced systems shutdown more often than not.

But what we have at the heart of this story is, of course, the issue of personhood and interpersonal relationships. And friendship - that other dreaded f-word.
“In a low voice, Ratthi commented to Overse, “Anyone who thinks machine intelligences don’t have emotions needs to be in this very uncomfortable room right now.”
You see, after a pretty traumatic life of being treated as nothing more than “an appliance for a team”, a dangerous weapon that can be discarded and abandoned if its human clients need to save their own hides, and being very much an introvert to begin with, Murderbot is not too comfortable with feelings and affection and emotions. Not that it does not have emotions - those are present in abundance - but MB is very uncomfortable expressing them. M-Bot is a very private person and prefers it that way.
“Ratthi had said, “I think you should let it go for a while, at least until we get ourselves out of this situation. SecUnit is a very private person, it doesn’t like to discuss its feelings.”
This is why Ratthi is my friend.”
MB has its favorite human Dr. Mensah, and our old friends from the Preservation Aux survey team from the first novella (“Just clients. And if anyone or anything tried to hurt them, I would rip its intestines out.”) but it is more than reluctant to admit how much others can mean to it. Especially when a certain “ART” is concerned, an immense artificial intelligence located in the interplanetary spaceship that Murderbot befriended back in the second novella, and gave it, ahem, an interesting nickname (“Except that I’m being held prisoner by a giant asshole of a research transport.”).
“(If I got angry at myself for being angry I would be angry constantly and I wouldn’t have time to think about anything else.) (Wait, I think I am angry constantly. That might explain a lot.)”
Murderbot goes through a complicated and confusing mix of emotional breakdown and a temper tantrum (although that last one was mostly justified given all those feelings of betrayal), and tries to come to term with the blatantly obvious fact that its relationship with ART is that of a deeply committed friendship. Yeah, I know.
“It still sounded disgusting. “Do you have to call it a relationship?”
Ratthi shrugged one shoulder. “You don’t like the word ‘friendship.’ What else is there?”
I had no idea. I did a quick search on my archives and pulled out the first result. “Mutual administrative assistance?”
Yes, emotional vulnerability is difficult for our SecUnit. Can’t fault it for that - MB’s life until a few kilohours ago used to be basically a neverending case of PTSD.
“I yelled, “ART, stop talking to my human behind my back!”
You know that thing humans do where they think they’re being completely logical and they absolutely are not being logical at all, and on some level they know that, but can’t stop? Apparently it can happen to SecUnits, too.”
The other continuing thread is the right of a sentient intelligent being to self-determination and personhood, the overarching theme of the entire series.

Murderbot’s world is the corporatized universe of the future, where planets with their inhabitants are property and indentured servitude to companies is a way of life, and Corporation Rim is a very powerful supragalactic entity “(Corporations didn’t actually invent space and planets, despite the patents the company had tried to file.)” Unlike the more egalitarian and utopian outliers of the Preservation Alliance, Corporation Rim will always view our MB as not a person but property, tool, weapon, appliance, dangerous but disposable. And the more we get to know MB the more and more jarring this feels; instead of desensitization the incongruence between what it IS and what the corporate world considers it to be becomes more and more painful. As it should be.
“I was getting tired of being told what to do. Self-determination was a pain in the ass sometimes but it beat the alternative by a lot.”
In the middle of snark and lightheartedness and overall hijinks the serious reminders of SecUnits slavery and subjugation (“SecUnits are not rabid murderers unless humans specifically order them to be”) and any of the transgressions (even involuntary) punishable by torture and death are sobering. And anger-provoking. And poignant.
“I love it when humans forget that SecUnits are not just guarding and killing things voluntarily, because we think it’s fun.”
And no person needs to take that kind of treatment from anyone.
The ending of Network Effect left me so happy and hopeful. Because I love seeing our MB grow and develop and find what it wants and go for it. The universe owes it that at the very least.
“(Confession time: that moment, when the humans or augmented humans realize you’re really here to help them. I don’t hate that moment.)”

5 stars.
Now excuse me as I start my re-read already.
And now the impatient wait begins for the further adventures of Peri’s SecUnit and Asshole Research Transport.

EDITED TO ADD: I caved in and switched the pronoun to Murderbot’s preferred “it” instead of “he”, based on the word of God Martha Wells . Feels jarring but I’ll try.

My review of the first novella, “All Systems Red” is here.
My review of the second novella, “Artificial Condition” is here.
My review of the third one, “Rogue Protocol”, is here.
My review of the fourth one, “Exit Strategy”, is here.
My review of the sixth one, “Fugitive Telemetry”, is here.

Ratthi sighed, leaned against the wall and said, “So, you have a relationship with this transport.”
I was horrified. Humans are disgusting. “No!”
Ratthi made a little exasperated noise. “I didn’t mean a sexual relationship.”
Amena’s brow furrowed in confusion and curiosity. “Is that possible?”
“No!” I told her.
Ratthi persisted, “You have a friendship.”
I settled back in the corner and hugged my jacket. “No. Not—No.”
“Not anymore?” Ratthi asked pointedly.
“No,” I said very firmly.


My Hugo and Nebula Awards Reading Project 2021: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
736 reviews1,257 followers
August 2, 2021
I'm doing the BookTube thing now! Find me at: The Obsessive Bookseller

[4.5/5 stars!] There are few things in life that make me happier than spending time with Murderbot.

… which is ironic, considering it would rather do literally anything than be social. The Novellas alone were enough to solidify the series as an all-time favorite, so discovering this full-length novel was in the works immediate jumped it to the top of my priority list for 2020. Network Effect was every bit as sardonic, action-packed, and endearing as the novellas, but took it one step further by adding even more depth to the characters.

The unique writing style is the best thing about these books (aside from character construction). It doesn’t follow typical storytelling constructs and often comes across as more conversational than anything else. There’s a great deal of punctuation used to convey Murderbot’s sardonic tone, and no shortage of profanity for comedic impact. I’ve never read anything that comes this close to how I communicate in my daily life, so even the bones of how the story was presented sang to my soul. There were a few occasions where the sarcastic voice was a bit heavy-handed, but this is one of the few cases I would rather a little too much than not enough.

And then we have Murderbot. The best character in sci-fi, hands-down.

I think it’s my spirit animal. It’s awkward and introverted and just wants to be left alone to watch its tv serials and I can relate to every single solitary time it couldn’t bring itself to “people” anymore. But the brilliance in this novel is that, social obligational constructs aside, it still craves connection. And that’s where the story becomes much more than a action-packed sci-fi. It’s about a rogue SecUnit trying to carve out a place for itself in the universe. Did Murderbot make me cry? Maybe. I don’t know. Fuck off.

Recommendations: The Murderbot Diaries is in close running with The Expanse and Planetside as my favorite sci-fi on the market. It’s exciting, it’s funny as shit, and it has that magic X-factor that gets people emotionally invested. Start with All Systems Red, and I bet you’ll know within the first few pages if it’s something you’ll enjoy. I was hooked from the first sentence, and it has only gotten better from there. Consider this an official Obsessive Bookseller endorsement – this series is fantastic!

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com

Other books you might like:
Planetside (Planetside #1) by Michael Mammay Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, #1) by James S.A. Corey Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1) by John Scalzi The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1) by Becky Chambers Fortune's Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel Bach
Profile Image for MarilynW.
1,192 reviews3,025 followers
January 29, 2023
Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries #5)
by Martha Wells, Kevin R. Free (Narrator)

2021 Hugo Award best novel: Network Effect
2021 Hugo Award for best series: The Murderbot Diaries

Murderbot is not kidding when it says that 90% plus of its problems are in its head. Life is getting more complicated for MB. Those around him keep mentioning feelings and using the "friend" word. Ick! It's bad enough that MB had to convince (okay, bribe) its former owner to go into extensive in-patient therapy, MB knows deep down that it needs help, too. MB has been having emotional crises. What the heck!?!

Still, thank goodness there is no time for MB to think about such issues. In this full length addition to the Murderbot Diaries series, MB is very, very busy. MB is on a mission with its not-friend humans when it's contacted by its not-friend ship bot acquaintance. The ship bot needs help but it's not acting very friendly in the asking for help. In fact, it looks like an attack rather than a request. But then so much of what happens in this story is not what it seems.

MB would like to just lock itself in a room and never come out. It'd like to watch its entire collection of media in peace. It never wants to talk about feelings or acknowledge that some think of it as a friend. And now its ship bot not-friend and its human not-friends are meeting and just maybe ganging up on it when MB is extremely mad at non-friend ship bot. Did you know that MB has anger issues?

And then there are all the attempts to kill those it's trying to protect. That makes it mad and you do not want to make MB mad!

There is a lot of action, a lot of cussing (I'm looking at you, MB), and loads of funny internal MB dialogue which is my favorite part about these stories. Although, MB's external dialogue is funny, too. MB is snarky internally and externally and I'm glad I get to hear it all.

Published May 5, 2020 by Recorded Books
Profile Image for carol..
1,563 reviews8,199 followers
April 22, 2023
First of all, it's Murderbot. So 'four stars' here is about a million for a normal read. But I struggled with Network Effect. Yes, pandemic, yada, yada. The fact is, while I was waiting for this to come out, I was able to read the quartet of novellas back-to-back, and appreciate the sense of growth in 'Bot's character, starting from a largely indifferent security AI ("as you may have noticed, I didn't care") to a being that risked security and function to save the human who consistently recognized it as its own entity. 

Yet despite that tremendous growth, Network Effect opens with a 'Bot who is behaving more than a little like an adolescent teen. Fair enough, I suppose, as like a young adult, 'Bot is emotionally conscripted into a job it doesn't really want to do, working with at least a couple of people it doesn't really like, for a person it does like but feels conflicted about (talk about first jobs in a nutshell). But it just seemed like too much a couple of times; like Wells had heard back from fans and the agent and the publisher about all the things that people loved about Murderbot, and so she took the sarcasm and the emotional unavailability and the situational resolution and turned the dial up to 'eleven' for the first chapter. In fact, I feel like she turned back the clock on 'Bot's development just to see how far the dial would turn. Frankly, it disappointed me so badly that I put it aside until I could let my expectations go. 

So there we are, expectation-free, and reading again. I still got wriggles on a few of the same lines, but generally was able to relax and just enjoy all of them. When I read: "I said 'Let him go.' I didn't really feel like negotiating. I have a module on it, somewhere in my archive. It was never much help" and chuckled, I knew I was in a good spot.

The narrative is almost entirely from 'Bot's viewpoint, and once we pass through the adolescent scenes into the situational investigation and resolution, 'Bot's voice is far more tolerable. When Wells does add in another voice, I'll confess I was triply impressed

Wells did a couple of surprising things with Network, and the most surprising of all is that I somehow remained unaware of them despite reading many reviews. So while we all might know that ART will show up, there's many twists and turns up Wells' sleeve, and the solutions that the players arrive at are occasionally surprising as well. I will say that it felt very fast-and-furious, with hardly time to breathe in the last half of the book. I look forward to re-reading at my leisure and paying more attention to the craft of the book, because I think Wells is a fantastic author.

Update January 2023 from vacation: Clearly, I was suffering from QuarantineBrain™ the first time I read this. Started and finished a couple of days.

Love the 'Bot and want to join a re/read? Discuss the upcoming release? Nataliya and I lead a group:
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,534 reviews9,931 followers
December 28, 2020
UPDATE: $2.99 Kindle US Today 12/28/20

4.5 stars! I love Murderbot!!

I was stoked when there was going to be a full length novel of our favorite MB! I’m hoping there are many more books to come. There are more of the characters we love in the book as well and the usual mess that ensues!

I’m going to leave it with a few lines from the book!

(Humans have a bad tendency to use weapons unnecessarily and indiscriminately. Of the many times I had been shot, a depressingly large percentage of hits had come from clients who were trying to "help" me.)(Another significant percentage came from clients who had just wanted to shoot something when I happened to be standing there.)

We made it outside to the pedestrian plaza and I asked her, "Do you need a medic?" I thought she might be sick. If I was human and I’d had to be in a pavilion with all those other humans for the past two hours, I’d be sick.

I said, "If I thought he was going to hurt you, I’d be disposing if his body. I don’t fuck around, either."

Hey, is that you?
It was loud, right in my ear, and I almost screamed. It was a feed contact but so close it was like it was already inside my head.
Who are you?
It said, I’m Murderbot 2.0.
If this is going to be like one of those shows with the character trapped in a strange place and then ghosts and aliens come and mess with their mind, I just can’t do that right now. But I couldn’t ignore it. I mean, I guess I couldn’t. Ignoring stuff is always an option, up until it kills you.

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
December 10, 2021
murderbot for president of everything.

i read my first murderbot this year, way back in april, and now—six books and two short stories later, i cannot remember what life was like before murderbot stomped into my readerheart. it sounds stupid, but i feel positively enriched by these books and i don't know what i will do if she ever decides to stop writing this series.

this is the longest and most satisfying murderbot book, and i'm already looking forward to rereading it. because here's the thing—as much as i love murderbot—how they think, how they fight AND THE FRIENDS THEY MAKE ALONG THE WAY, i get lost sometimes in the sci-fi of it all. and it's no fault of the author—her writing is excellent, she does all the world-building work, and the SF elements are not even that complicated; it is hundo-percent me and my inability to really visualize things i've never seen, and once you throw any kind of technology in there, i'm a goner.

there are a million ships and transports (but only one that matters ♥), and fuck me if i know the difference between pathfinders and shuttles and explorers, or even what their relative dimensions would be. and then there's the various weapons and drones, implants and alien remnants, malware and feeds and wormholes and i'm over here still struggling with how gravity works. additionally, there are several crews' worth of humans (returning and brand-new characters), altered memories and complicated timelines and political pissing contests and all sorts of technical shit that makes my mind's eye recoil with incomprehension.

even more than in previous murderbots, i had a hard time keeping everything straight, and i had to reread passages frequently, which is not something that happens to me with any other kind of book. for example, i am right now reading Moon Witch, Spider King, which has like 4 whole pages of characters listed before the book starts, and although i'm not very far in, if it's anything like the first book in the trilogy, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which was convoluted and character-heavy AF, i know i'm gonna be fine.

it's just outer space that gives me trouble. well, and lovecraft, because he doesn't even try to describe things, he just throws up his hands and bleats "ineffable" and we're supposed to be satisfied with that.

like i said, it's probably just me and my dumb brain, but just opening to a random page:

I've considered constructing a killware assault, but the data I managed to retain from targetControlSystem suggests it would be ineffective...Both Ratthi and Overse have theorized that some elements of the Target's Pre-Corporation Rim technology—for example, the implants—may be acting as receivers for esoteric alien remnant tech, like the object that affected my drive. A standard killware assault on the Pre-CR systems would not be able to take into account the alien system, not unless it was variable and could alter its behavior based on the protections and obstructions is encounters. I can't code that with the resources I have available.

It was talking about something similar to the self-aware virus that GrayCris and Palisade Security had deployed against the company gunship, where I'd crashed myself and nearly wrecked my memory archive helping the bot pilot fight it off.

that all sounds like BEEP BOOP BOOP rattling around in my brain and it takes me awhile to sift through paragraphs like that to make any sense of it.

[savvy readers will note that ellipsis—i have omitted six words because i'm choosing to keep mum on something that other reviewers have shared freely (and it's not a spoiler at all so don't be one of those spoiler-scolders everyone hates), but i'm choosing silence because when murderbot's penny dropped (triggering my own one-cent tumble*), my jaw dropped. it DROPPED.

and i want other readers to have that experience.

two words: peri 4-eva.]

so, yeah, i'm too dumb for a lot of this world's details.

but, oh, the rest of it. murderbot's growth as an independent person, their cranky observations about human behavior (and biology), their stunned reaction to any kindness, their discomfort with their feels, their knack for getting out of tricky situations, and the reluctant burden of acquiring allies and even (saying it quickly to lessen m-bot's squeamishness) lovedones.

it's funny and touching and FULL of sulking. murderbot-as-mentor is glorious, and the ending opens up so many possibilities for future adventures that i cannot wait to read.

as long as mensah and murderbot keep in touch.

She smiled a little. "The good thing is, you do know what you want."

I sort of did know. It was a weird feeling. "That's new."

She smiled all the way. "I wasn't going to put it quite that way, but yes."

i'm not sure if the unwritten-but-commissioned murderbot books are going to be novellas or full-length novels like this one, but either way, i am OVER THE MOON excited to go wherever martha wells sends murderbot next.

*you know who gives one-cent tumbles? GM!



i will be sad once i finish this and realize i will have to WAIT for more murderbots to be published, instead of just grabbing one from my shelves whenever i feel the need for a MURDERBOT FIX.

review to come but YESSSSSSSSSSS

come to my blog!
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 59 books8,579 followers
May 19, 2020
Marvellous. Incredibly readable and deeply humane depiction of a friendship, which is funny because the protagonists are a misanthropic and deeply traumatised killer cyborg that just wants to watch soap operas, and the utterly amoral AI of a large spaceship. Murderbot is a fantastic creation, and the emotional arc is deeply engaging as it reluctantly develops feelings, and friendships, and responsibilities. The external plot is a bit out of focus at points, but the joy of this is all in the characterisation and narrative style. Plus the fights are excellent and there's some really good creepy stuff. Spectacularly readable.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,765 reviews1,766 followers
July 30, 2020
Post-release thoughts aka Review: I loved this book so much, and that of course means I am at a loss to describe it. I also read it almost three months ago, and am only now attempting to write this review. This means BULLET POINTS.

But first, I do want to say that I was very pleased with the first outing of Murderbot in novel form, as opposed to novella. I enjoyed spending a longer page count with Murderbot, whose character arc continues to develop in a pleasing fashion. I will be sad and displeased if Wells goes back to novellas. (I am typing all of this full well knowing that the next Murderbot book is going to take place before this one, and it is going to be a novella. I guess I am in “denial”.)

•Murderbot once again has to save the pesky humans, this time after they are all abducted.

•ART is back! And oh my god it’s even better than before. . And it makes it all the more delightful for me that all of this plays out with Murderbot’s characteristic repressed but very strong emotions in play.

•I liked the way that there was such an emphasis on Murderbot not being a human, and not wanting to be a human, just being a person is hard enough, thank you.

•I don’t remember very much about the plot, sorry, entirely here for the emotions or denial thereof.

•Mensa is so motherly in this I can’t even.

•When the second SecUnit gets roped in to Murderbot’s hacked governor-module club, I nearly lost it with glee, I was so happy.

•I don’t remember enough to make more bullet points.

I really just want to re-read, but that would mean re-reading all the novellas, too, and I only own the first one in e-book, and not the others. I’m waiting so patiently for an eventual bind-up to be published. I tried the audiobooks (they’re all on SCRIBD) but I hated Kevin R. Free’s narration. He’s just not Murderbot for me and I didn’t make it past the first two sentences, though I have enjoyed a couple other books he’s narrated. Basically: WOE.

Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
262 reviews3,922 followers
June 5, 2022
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The first Murderbot Diaries full length novel sparks new life into a series that was starting to get too predictable.

Murderbot is back, and this time in an actual novel compared to the previous four books where were novellas. This expanding of the story length strengthened the story in every conceivable way, and fixed many of the problems that plagued the last few entries in this series.

My main issues with the previous books were that the formula was getting stale, and I feared that the short book didn't give enough room for real story development. The author found something that worked, and stuck with it - but after several books of doing a very similar thing didn't feel fresh.

This book having more than double the length of the previous books solved these problems by allowed actual character growth for all of the characters involved, the reintroduction of a much beloved robot, and a plot that was significantly different from the previous entries. I found myself both giggling, and eagerly turning the pages to find out how they were going to solve the mystery - in a way that hasn't happened yet in the previous 4 books. It doesn't surprise me at all to find out that this book is the highest rated of the bunch.

While I still am eager to read #6 in this series, I do find myself a bit disappointed that it is back to the novella format.

Great work Martha Wells - and please get back to writing full length Murderbot books. They rock!
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,320 reviews2,140 followers
May 8, 2020
Everything I was hoping for! To be honest this full length book was no different from the previous novellas except in its number of pages. Murderbot was still its cranky, sarcastic, amazing self. The story went from one action sequence to the next. And that special little bit of magic that Wells weaves into her writing to keep the reader captivated was still there.

Loved the return of ART who is cranky, sarcastic and amazing, just like Murderbot! I enjoyed the way the author brought the Preservation team into the action and also how she has set events up for the next (full length we hope) novel.

I strongly recommend that this is not read as a stand alone. It needs the build up of the earlier books, especially the previous encounter with ART, to fully appreciate all that goes on. Easily five stars for me:)
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,593 followers
May 9, 2020
*** 4.75***

"... “I was having an emotion, and I hate that.”
― Martha Wells, Exit Strategy "

It is obvious I love this series - I engulfed the whole thing in two days. What I would like people to know about the Murderbot Diaries is that yes, it is a Sci-fi series with a cyborg for the main character, but it should not be read by Science Fiction fans only. If you are at all interested in the way humans relate to each other and how those with either body dysmorphia or Asperger's aspects might view their role in human society, this is the series for you! It is about friendship even when those we love might not understand what friendship is. Families like mine, who have someone dealing with certain spectrum of autism in members of our family or social circles, would gain a lot of perspective as well as recognize a lot of the behaviors in Murderbot and some of his friends.

"...“(“I don’t want to be human.” Dr. Mensah said, “That’s not an attitude a lot of humans are going to understand. We tend to think that because a bot or a construct looks human, its ultimate goal would be to become human.” “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”)”
― Martha Wells, Exit Strategy "

I have no words to express how much joy this book brought me and I would really like to share it with as many people as I could possibly reach! The writing is simple, but very appropriate for the subject, and the plot in the first four novellas as well as in this fifth volume, but first full size novel, is meticulous and deliberate, but the interpersonal relationships between the characters is what makes this story shine. The constant running internal monologue Murderbot shares with the reader is awkward, uncertain, insecure, and so very human, that I laughed and cried in equal measures. And even though he is one of the grumpiest, more easily annoyed and impossibly stubborn creatures you could meet, he will steal your heart and bring optimism and light to your soul!

"...“(Possibly I was overthinking this. I do that; it’s the anxiety that comes with being a part-organic murderbot. The upside was paranoid attention to detail. The downside was also paranoid attention to detail.)”
― Martha Wells, Exit Strategy "

Highly recommend this series for everyone, and you should definitely read the series in order - not good for a stand alone.

"...“It was very dramatic, like something out of a historical adventure serial. Also correct in every aspect except for all the facts, like something out of a historical adventure serial.”
― Martha Wells, Exit Strategy "

Now I wish you all happy reading and may you always find what you need in the pages of a good Book 😉💜👍
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,169 reviews1,140 followers
January 31, 2021
Second read (Jan 2021)
I retain my rating. The story got overly long and bored the heck out of me after halfway and only picked up in the last few chapters. I don't need to be told each step SecUnit took, architectural features it observed, or technical details it was pondering about. At first I thought it's because the audio, but even reading the ebook version I still had the same experience. Glad the next one would be in novella length again.

First read (May 2020)
Revising my previous rating to 3.5 stars and rounded it down. Yeah, I'm a bit disappointed. The book would easily be a four star or even a five if it's a novella and could shed the many, many padding in it.

I was very excited during the first 35% of the novel which was awesome and endearing at the same time, with the coolest action scene in the book. Afterward however I slogged through it until the 80% mark. I listened to the audio and remember having to rewind chapters because almost none of the narration stuck. When I finished listening to one chapter for the second time, oftentimes I thought 'well apparently I did not miss much after all!'.

I believe the simple plot does not justify the page length. There were many telling and not showing. I mean, everyone loves Murderbot including me, with their glorious snarky, series-binging self. But I need more story, more exciting worldbuilding. There were some additional, uh, characters, whose appearances have not assured me worth more than a plot device.

To finish my rant, for me this novel just have too many fan service in regards to the Bot's relationship with a particular AI, it felt like reading a romcom which cute/funny parts were milked and milked it became grating. I understand the need for the Bot's character development but I don't enjoy reading them acting like a emotionally pent-up lover. It should have stopped at the vitriolic best buds type. I don't want to spoil but if you pay attention to the cover, you'll know who it is.

I know, I know, I'm totally in the minority here. I still love the Bot, mind you, and will continue reading the sequel, which I think will have far fewer pages ;)
Profile Image for Melindam.
663 reviews293 followers
August 13, 2023
“Surely they won’t suspect anything,” Ratthi was saying to the others at the bulk dock. “Who runs around with a friendly rogue SecUnit? Besides us, I mean.” I DO, I DO, I DO. :)

"...my risk assessment module thought everything was great. (I know, it worries me when I say that, too.)"

Performance reliability: 200%

Murderbot is back and gets emotionally compromised!

ART is back and gets emotionally compromised!

The readers are back and get emotionally compromised!

And while we all know Murderbot just hates this with a vengeance, I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it and I am so on board for more! :)

All those F-words: F*CK, FR**NDS, F**LINGS! ♡♡

“So, you have a relationship with this transport.”
I was horrified. Humans are disgusting.
Ratthi made a little exasperated noise. “I didn’t mean a sexual relationship.”

Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,093 reviews17.7k followers
June 28, 2022
what if you were a research transport that was really awful and mean and I was a security robot who hacked my government ID and we watched television together and then ? these and other questions are answered in Martha Wells’ “Network Effect” (2020)

In the last Murderbot novella, corporation GrayCris [murder company, and hirer of rival security corporation Palisade] attempted to murder Dr. Mensah, a human under Murderbot’s care. Now located in the Preservation Alliance, a non-corporate socialist society, Murderbot works to protect Mensah’s daughter, Amena, on a mission. But things soon go haywire when Murderbot and Amena, along with Mensah’s friends Thiago, Arada, Overse, and Ratthi, find themselves in an empty system with potential alien tech. What's a murder-robot to do? Well... shenanigans.
I love it when humans forget that SecUnits are not just guarding and killing things voluntarily, because we think it’s fun.

Yet again, this series is giving us a fantastic focus on the relationship between ART and Murderbot, and I'm enjoying this relationship more and more each novella. This novella once again adds complexity to their relationship and builds it into even more of a complicated dynamic, one I'm as invested in as ever. I'm also extremely excited by Amena, who is a really fun character even in her smallest appearances.
I was a thing before I was a person and if I’m not careful, I could be a thing again.

With a great plot built to both entertain and develop Murderbot, I loved this as much as always. I have yet to tire of this series and am hyped to read the next one.

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Profile Image for Dennis.
658 reviews276 followers
February 5, 2023
The first full-length Murderbot novel.

I'll be completely honest with you, I didn't care much about the plot of this one. Maybe because of the underwhelming first couple of chapters that made me start the book four times over before I finally managed to focus on what is happening, or because of its middle-part when the pacing experienced a system shutdown and the plot was searching for the way to somewhere, for one reason or another this ended up in Whateverland.

So why 3 stars? Because Murderbot is still Murderbot, its narrative voice still being awesome. Because with ART its best sidekick makes a comeback here. Because their relationship is fun and the book made me laugh a lot.

Do you have to call it a relationship?”
Ratthi shrugged one shoulder. “You don’t like the word ‘friendship.’ What else is there?”
I had no idea. I did a quick search on my archives and pulled out the first result. “Mutual administrative assistance?"

There are a lot of heartwarming moments, Wells writes relationships (sorry, Murderbot) exceptionally well, and the last 20% or so were quite entertaining. I almost gave it a 3.5 in the end. But it felt padded and probably should have been a novella again. There were just too many moments when I didn't care (early Murderbot would relate, I suppose).

I also regret getting this on audio. But not because the audio was bad. It's just that this is a very quotable book. Maybe next time.

Ratthi sighed, leaned against the wall and said, “So, you have a relationship with this transport.”
I was horrified. Humans are disgusting. “No!”
Ratthi made a little exasperated noise. “I didn’t mean a sexual relationship.”
Amena’s brow furrowed in confusion and curiosity. “Is that possible?”
“No!” I told her.
Ratthi persisted, “You have a friendship.”
I settled back in the corner and hugged my jacket. “No. Not—No.”
“Not anymore?” Ratthi asked pointedly.
“No,” I said very firmly.

I'm still looking forward to ART's and MBot's adventures in future books (novellas?).

Buddy read with Nataliya, who, as the world's leading Murderbot addict expert, probably was having an emotion after the second paragraph.

January 2023 addendum: Out of all the MB books this is my least favorite. So why was I reading this again? Well, someone asked me what it would take to make me read it another time and I told someone that she could read my favorite German sci-fi novel Hologrammatica and I would read this one here in return. There isn't an English translation of Hologrammatica and someone doesn't speak German. So I was pretty sure I was not going to re-read Network Effect. Note to self: Never underestimate the dedication and commitment of Murderbot fans.

At least someone gave Hologrammatica a five-star rating. So it was worth it.

Winner of the 2020 Nebula Award and 2021 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Murderbot also won best series. It was a good year for our favorite misanthropic not-a-robot, not-a-human.

2020 Nebula Award Finalists

Best Novel
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)
The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk (Erewhon)
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)
Network Effect by Martha Wells (Tordotcom Publishing)

Best Novella
Tower of Mud and Straw by Yaroslav Barsukov (Metaphorosis)
Finna by Nino Cipri (Tordotcom Publishing)
Ring Shout by P. Dj��lí Clark (Tordotcom Publishing)
Ife-Iyoku, Tale of Imadeyunuagbon by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora, Aurelia Leo)
The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg (Tachyon)
Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi (Tordotcom Publishing)

Best Novelette
Stepsister by Leah Cypess (F&SF 5-6/20)
The Pill by Meg Elison (Big Girl, PM Press)
Burn or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super by A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny 5-6/20)
Two Truths and a Lie by Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com 6/17/20)
• Where You Linger by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Uncanny 1-2/20)
• Shadow Prisons by Caroline M. Yoachim (serialized in the Dystopia Triptych series as The Shadow Prison Experiment, Shadow Prisons of the Mind and The Shadow Prisoner’s Dilemma, Broad Reach Publishing + Adamant Press)

Best Short Story
Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse by Rae Carson (Uncanny 1-2/20)
Advanced Word Problems in Portal Math by Aimee Picchi (Daily Science Fiction 1/3/20)
A Guide For Working Breeds by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, Solaris)
The Eight-Thousanders by Jason Sanford (Asimov’s 9-10/20) (Asimov’s 9-10/20)
My Country Is a Ghost by Eugenia Triantafyllou (Uncanny 1-2/20)
Open House on Haunted Hill by John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots 6/15/20)

The Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (Amulet)
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher (Argyll)
A Game of Fox and Squirrels by Jenn Reese (Holt)
Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar (HarperTeen)

2021 Hugo Award Finalists

Best Novel
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Network Effect by Martha Wells
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

Best Novella
Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire
The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
Finna by Nino Cipri
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Best Novelette
Burn or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super by A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny Magazine Issue 34: May/June 2020)
I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter by Isabel Fall (Clarkesworld, January 2020)
• The Inaccessibility of Heaven by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny Magazine Issue 35: July/August 2020)
Monster by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 160)
• The Pill by Meg Elison (from Big Girl)
Two Truths and a Lie by Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com)

Best Short Story
Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse by Rae Carson (Uncanny Magazine Issue 32: January/February 2020)
A Guide For Working Breeds by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, Solaris)
Little Free Library by Naomi Kritzer (Tor. com)
The Mermaid Astronaut by Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, February 2020)
Metal Like Blood in the Dark by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine, September/October 2020)
Open House on Haunted Hill by John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots 6/15/20)

Best Series
• The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty
• The Interdependency by John Scalzi
• The Lady Astronaut Universe by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
• October Daye by Seanan McGuire
• The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Best Graphic Story or Comic
Die, Vol. 2: Split the Party, written by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, letters by Clayton Cowles
Ghost-Spider, Vol. 1: Dog Days Are Over, written by Seanan McGuire, art by Takeshi Miyazawa and Rosi Kämpe
Invisible Kingdom, Vol. 2: Edge of Everything, written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Christian Ward
Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda
Once & Future, Vol. 1: The King is Undead, written by Kieron Gillen, iIllustrated by Dan Mora, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, lettered by Ed Dukeshire
Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, written by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings
Profile Image for D.G..
1,365 reviews342 followers
June 22, 2021
So many feelings! Oops, I said the f word - Murderbot is going to be cross with me. But I can't help myself. Since my loss, the release of this book is the only thing I've been looking forward to this year and it didn't disappoint.

Things I loved:
☑ ART is back!! I feel that I can write reams on this alone but I'll have to wait until my second or third re-read. I loved the way Ms. Wells how the Preservation folks and ART came together - even if Murderbot didn't. Of course, the most shocking development of this book is that Murderbot and ART have a "relationship" (quotes aren't mine, they are Muderbot's.) I also loved the setup for the next book(s), because we know for a fact they'll be together. (It was so cute how excited ART was to meet Dr. Mensah.)

☑ We got some explanations as to part of ART's function, met some of his crew and met more Preservation folks. We also got to learn more about alien remnants and why they're so dangerous. I'm not sure I got what was the bad guy hoping to achieve but the techie explanations in this series usually go over my head in the first read. I'm hoping to get some clarity when I read it next.

☑ Is this the start of the SecUnit revolution? (Or whatever?) Loved the addition of Three and Murderbot's realization that its quirks are not because its a SecUnit but it's its own person. I liked how the 2.0 issue was resolved because otherwise, this would have been too much like the Bobiverse.

☑ Really glad that Preservation folks were important part of the plot: Ratthi (my favorite of them all) and really liked the addition of Amena. Also, I know Murderbot said that Dr. Mensah was his "teammate" but to me, she's more like its mom.

A few quibbles
☒ I wish Murderbot and ART would have talked more about what they were so mad with each other. Saying "I apologize for calling you a fucker" wasn't enough for me. (I know this would involve talking about feelings, but it's not as if ART doesn't know how to force difficult conversations.) Hoping this will come about in future books!

☒ I don't like that Dr. Mensah is referred as Amena's "second mom" because it makes it seem like she's secondary. Why not go with mother/mama/mom?

☒ Corporations as evil, eevil, eeevil! I'm sure this resonates well with readers these days but at the end, Corporations are groups of people and I don't like the assumption that everybody in Preservation is good because they are sort of socialists while everybody in the Corporation Rim are bad because they're capitalists.

I hope we won't have to wait 1.5 years for the next book and that some Preservation folks make it to future books (Amena will be a good candidate, although probably not for this next mission.)

In the meantime, I have some new shows to watch! Lineages of the Sun or Timestream Defenders Orion?

RE-READ #1 - May 20
Yes, I already re-read this book even though it has been out for like a week. As always a few things always pop back for me on the re-read:

I get it, the Corporation Rim are the bad guys of the series.
I guess Ms. Wells point is to explore a world where Corporate excesses are not checked and how bad things can become. That said, I still don't like the idea that being a Corporate immediately means you're bad person. I think I'd like to see a good corporate and a villain from Preservation.

I still don't know what the heck the villain(s) was trying to accomplish here.
If somebody got it, please explain it to me.

What makes a person, a person
Like Murderbot, I didn't get why Amena and ART were so upset about the whole 2.0 situation but I got it now. I thought of ART as a person so why I was so callous of 2.0?

Three as Murderbot's St. Paul
You know, the one who actually spreads the word. Also, are the files that Murderbot shared with Three "his diaries? (You know, books 1-4?)

I bought the hardcover so I can go back easier to favorite sections and also, spell the names correctly. :) Seeing the actual book, also made me realize why sometimes I have difficulty figuring out if Murderbot is speaking out loud or just thinking in the audiobook. There are so many asides!!

RE-READ #2 - Jun 21
I don't know how I can get a book hungover from a series I read multiple times but there you have it. It made me realize that this series is my Sanctuary Moon. Whenever I feel sad, stressed, overwhelmed, I immediately come back to it and listening to it, makes me feel so much better.

I actually re-read the whole series the time and read book 6 BEFORE this one (as it's set up before this time chronologically. It really makes more sense to read it.

Something new that I thought in this re-read is how the issue of ownership will be solved if Murderbot comes back to the Corporation Rim. Just wondering because they made an issue out of it with Amena. Fake docs? A contract with Dr. Mensah? Somebody from Preservation j0ining Murderbot?
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,598 reviews2,309 followers
January 21, 2021
Network Effect
By: Martha Wells
Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
Series: Murderbot Diaries, Book 5
Nothing like listening to Murderbot all day! Chases away the blues! Both Art and our Murderbot are more human than most people! What a fun book! Full of wit, humor, great sci-fi, AIs that DO care despite what they claim, action, aliens, and adventure! A feel good story!
Profile Image for Mara.
1,629 reviews3,881 followers
March 7, 2020
Somewhere between 4 to 4.5 stars... guys, Murderbot is back and it has stolen my heart even more than before! I cannot begin to express how comfy and cozy I feel spending time in Murderbot's head, so I'm so glad I had this book in my arsenal as a comfort read after the tornados in my neighborhood this week. Murderbot is the killer humanoid that I love cheering for, and this first full length novel gave me plenty of opportunities to root for them in crazy situations. ART is back and the interplay between Murderbot, ART, and a new character, Amena (Dr. Mensah's daughter), totally melted my heart. These books make me laugh out loud, and NETWORK EFFECT had a ton of one liners or wry observations that had me cracking up like a crazy person on my couch.
The only part of this that didn't fully work for me was the pacing-- I'm not sure the full magic of the novellas translated into the novel length in terms of how the plot unfolded, and therefore I do think there were moments that dragged a bit in that quarter. That said, this is definitely my second favorite entry in the series so far (right behind ALL SYSTEMS RED), and for those of you who have been waiting for this next installment, I really don't think you'll be disappointed. A great time, and now I just have to wait yet again for even more Murderbot to bless my life.
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews275 followers
June 2, 2020
No Spoilers

If you've been reading author Martha Wells' award-winning “Murderbot Diaries” novellas, you have no doubt been cheering on the title character ‘Murderbot’ from the sidelines for four adventures so far.
Wells' latest, “Network Effect”, is the first full-length novel featuring our


artificially intelligent robot. For those unfamiliar, I'll give you some time to catch up on the first four books… (Jeopardy music) Done .... ? OK, well that might not be long enough for a simple human, but for Murderbot, it would have been plenty of time to read the previous four volumes, watch an episode of future soap opera ‘The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon’ and break into a security system to complete a mission.

Murderbot which named itself (him or her, you choose), following a bloody incident in its past already has a lot of human qualities, as well as some organic parts, but it doesn't really like most humans all that much. It'd much rather be left alone to watch its favorite TV shows in peace and silence.

Like the series to full length movie format it follows, everything is a bit wider screen and a bit heavier, but all the hallmarks of the series are there.

We get the return of some beloved characters, more dodgy corporate interlopers, more robots-on A.I.-on-robot (and augmented human) action.

And a bigger mystery.

In this thrilling episode Murderbot and some of its current friends are quite suddenly captured and whisked across space. Figuring out who and why forms the most of the plot, but the sudden realization that an old acquaintance might be responsible complicates things for Murderbot and the humans it is sworn to protect.

One of the consistent strengths and joys of the series is Murderbot's internal dialogue.

“Network Effect” is a wonderful continuation of the series, and I highly recommend this book.

Watch for:

book 6 in the series "Fugitive Telemetry" expected publication April 27 , 2021


No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall.

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,969 reviews1,983 followers
December 19, 2021



When you get to the moment in reading a series of stories that you think you know what's coming next, and then you're kinda right but a whole lot wrong, that's when you know for sure you're in the right place at the right time.

I knew for sure I'd get Murderbot being its deeply cynical, snarky self, breaking the fourth wall at will and to great effect.
{We're in the shit because of} their hired security service Palisade making an extremely bad decision to punch my ex-owner bond company in the operating funds by attacking one of its gunships. (The company is paranoid and greedy and cheap but also ruthless, methodical, and intensely violent when it thinks it’s being threatened.)
So that was what had happened before the survey. Now we’re here, ready for the next major disaster. (Spoiler warning.)

I didn't realize, though, that the ART (acronym; you know already or you need to find out for yourself) and Murderbot would make this read the emotional rollercoater it is. (Yes, of course there are quotes to make this obvious but I can't spoiler-tag on my blog. Go here if you're that curious. But it's a MAJOR spoiler!)
—but there is this that I *can* quote, spoken by Murderbot after a serious, serious event takes place, one that changes the entire stakes of the novel: "My performance reliability had leveled out at 89 percent. Not great, but I could work with it. I still hadn’t identified the source of the drop. I’d taken multiple projectile hits without having that kind of steady drop." Which is a theme developed so well in this full-length novel. The problem of grief, of rage and loss, is universal; Author Wells hasn't, at any point in the series, hidden her cards in this regard. But the stakes, the sheer centrality of loss and rage and grief, take the Up escalator in this novel. Maybe Ratthi, a human and client of Murderbot's over the course of multiple stories, says it best: “Anyone who thinks machine intelligences don’t have emotions needs to be in this very uncomfortable room right now.”

Amen, Brother Ratthi. If anyone who's read more of the series (and if you haven't what the heck are you doing reading this review?!) wonders about how huge the change of tenor in this full-length novel is, I offer this:
Ratthi had said, “I think you should let it go for a while, at least until we get ourselves out of this situation. SecUnit is a very private person, it doesn’t like to discuss its feelings.”

This is why Ratthi is my friend.
(If I got angry at myself for being angry I would be angry constantly and I wouldn’t have time to think about anything else.) (Wait, I think I am angry constantly. That might explain a lot.)

Murderbot. Calling a human, a (former) client, a being under its protection, a friend is a moment to make a person pause. Then for Murderbot to acknowledge, with great precision, its emotional state...!

Then again this is the thing about reading this series, unlike reading many, many others: Author Wells is making something clear to us, in her inimitable sly way, that not many of us think about. She demands that, in loving and accepting the reality of Murderbot, that we contemplate the source of Murderbot's conundrum. Murderbot is a possession, chattel, a Thing:
(I know, it’s a logo, but I hate it when humans and augmented humans ruin things for no reason. Maybe because I was a thing before I was a person and if I’m not careful I could be a thing again.)
And of course the humans had trouble understanding that your governor module suddenly deciding to melt your brain wasn’t something you could rules-lawyer your way out of.

Like the SecUnit that Murderbot began its existence being and Dr. Mensah rescued it from continuing to be, there was a device installed in its organic brain that could cause it immense pain or simply end its existence...can't give a Thing power, like weaponry-power and tactical nous, without safeguards....

So be clear: By taking on this addictively funny series, you're taking on a level of self-reflection that, while salubrious and even vital it may be, it is also deeply uncomfortable:
Just because we’re both rogue SecUnits doesn’t mean we’re going to be friends, but I knew if it went back, it would be dead. I’d hacked my governor module and kept doing my job because I didn’t know what else to do (except you know, a murderous rampage, but murderous rampages are overrated and interfere with one’s ability to keep watching media) but that was different from escaping and then going back.

I said, “Because change is terrifying. Choices are terrifying. But having a thing in your head that kills you if you make a mistake is more terrifying.”
I’m letting you see all this because I want you to know what I am and what I can do. I want you to know who targetControlSystem is fucking with right now. I want you to know if you help me, I’ll help you, and that you can trust me. Now here’s the code to disable your governor module.

This is Murderbot caring for a fellow SecUnit whose existence as chattel, a Thing, it is trying to end. There is no guarantee that ending the other's slavery will make it a fellow seeker after the Meaning of Freedom; it won't even guarantee that there won't be mayhem and disaster to clean up after. But it will for sure and certain mean that the other SecUnit won't be under any compulsion to do anything.

No matter what that costs, it's worth everything and it's worth risking everything to give or to get.

I've failed to give this novel a perfect score of five-out-of-five. The reason is simple to the point of being petty: The pace is irregular and it's not because the story needs it to be. Author Wells has written numerous novels before this (here's her bibliography) so there is no reason this novel should not suffer from an avoidable fault. There are some scenes whose nature means they could've been cut or cut down (eg, the invaders the Scooby-group need to fight get more screen time than is necessary for non-repeating characters), there are some repeated references to Murderbot's happiness that it has no digestive system that were over-done...but none of these things did more than ding the paint on my gloriously chromed, befinned behemoth of Joy at spending a whole novel with Murderbot, ART, and the annoying humans they hang with.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,098 followers
November 4, 2020
The quirky security robot has certainly made a splash over the last few years. I've enjoyed the popcorn fun for exactly what it is: a noir tale with a take on prejudice set in a space opera mil-SF.

The fighting is always fun and the characterization is even better.

In this particular novel, expanding on the story and action compared to the previous novellas, we get the best of all worlds. It gets truly funny and the amusing relationships become rather heartwarming by the end.

Fights, hacking, subterfuge, and crazy robot exploits are the name of the game. Fun, not particularly deep, but definitely fun. Popcorn all the way.
Profile Image for Mimi.
698 reviews197 followers
Want to read
May 22, 2020
There's gonna be a full-length novel coming out... *checks calendar*... in 2020. That's actually very optimistic of Tor, assuming that we're gonna make it to 2020. But I'm excited (for the book).


Cover reveal and excerpt:

* * * * *

So I was wrong. We did make it to 2020.

* * * * *

Wrote that ^^ back in February. It is now May. Obviously I spoke too soon and jinxed it.
Profile Image for Ms. Smartarse.
601 reviews258 followers
November 14, 2022
Hoping to lessen each other's co-dependence, Dr. Mensah sends Murderbot on a research mission of the PreservationAux, along some of the "old crew", her brother-in-law, and her daughter Amena. Though things aren't precisely a breeze, they hardly pose much of a challenge to the perpetually paranoid SecUnit. Until of course a hostile space ship starts firing on them...

Perihelion space suits
Click for Youtube fan-made video

Wow! This was just so epic! The length, the complexity of the story, the number of awesome side-characters just bowled me over. As I had basically read all 6 books in quick succession, I never really took the time to check pesky little details such as page count, or even book summaries. I just kept reading, hanging on for the ride as everything seemed to precipitate around the characters. Well, I did occasionally wonder at the amount of action, drama and comic relief crammed into a story I was expecting to finish in 2 hours tops...

The good thing about being a construct is that I can have a dramatic emotional breakdown while still running my background search to find the drone key commands.

This book has everything, and not in negligible quantities either: action-scenes, tear-jerking friendship goals, deep space exploration, aliens, and even a sort of romance... although in true Murderbot fashion, it's more tongue-in-cheek than actual fluff. Surprisingly, I even managed to get attached to a human side-character for once: Amena is just darling and should accompany Murderbot (almost) everywhere from now on.

Amena and Murderbot
Click for full-size

The only complaint I have (you didn't think I'd let it go, did you?) is about the uninspired flashbacks. While they provide a much needed background for Murderbot's state of mind, the way they're inserted into the present storyline doesn't make much sense. Very little contextual planning appears to have gone into the placement process, and I honestly don't see why.

Score: 4.7/5 stars

NPR puts it best, when it compares Network Effect to a "feature-length movie with the bigger budget and scope".

Now we’re here, ready for the next major disaster. (Spoiler warning.)

Review of book 1: All Systems Red
Review of book 2: Artificial Condition
Review of book 3: Rogue Protocol
Review of book 4: Exit Strategy
Review of book 4.5: Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory
Review of book 6: Fugitive Telemetry
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews923 followers
July 3, 2022
“No hugging,” I warned her. It was in our contract.”

"Do you know who you are?"
"I'm Murderbot 2.0."

Martha Wells, NETWORK EFFECT author » Fictitious Podcast

Martha Wells' Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries, #5) delivers more Murderbot fun! If you're familiar with the series, I'm not sure what more needs to be said. Murderbot's perspective, relationship with both humans and bots, as well as its predilection for a show called "Sanctuary Moon" still makes me smile. This is the first full-length novel in the series, and I was wondering how that would make for a different experience. There was more time to focus on a few specific relationships; however, to me, it didn't change much. Network Effect is so much more about Murderbot's character and way of interacting with others than any plot. 4.25 stars
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,639 reviews1,509 followers
August 11, 2021
Sale Alert: Kindle Daily Deal 11Aug21 $2.99

4.5 My life needs more Cyborgs in it Stars

Network Effect had just about everything I ever wanted in a full-length story about Murderbot.
1 – More character development - ✔
2 – More AI-mance time between Murderbot and ART -✔ 
3 – More pesky humans almost getting themselves killed - ✔
4 – More Murderbotisms - ✔✔✔
5 – More fake media shows to get involved with peripherally - ✔ 

Murderbot has spent a lot of time since we last saw it trying to figure out what they want to be now that there are more opportunities for it. Mensah’s marriage partners and family are trying to be cool with the non-mass murdering former Sec Unit she has brought home and have some questions about their ‘relationship’. I think Murderbot’s performance just dropped 5% there. But, while Murderbot is trying to figure out what it now wants to be when it grows up they might as well make some credits and be security on for some of the Preservation scientists on an expedition. They’ve even worked out contract negotiation a little better this time.
“No hugging,” I warned her. It was in our contract.

Seriously though, I’m not sure how the people from preservation ever survived before Murderbot came into their lives as things go terribly wrong and they hop out of the frying pan an into the fire so to speak. Murderbot needs to help ART, that means that first he needs to figure out what happened to ART and the crew that ART cares for so much.

Murderbot is in rare form in this new installment to the series and they are learning a lot about social interactions and helping people. It seems like no matter what they end up with some humans that need to be saved and they are the only one that can do it. They might not think they have emotions happening but I’m pretty sure there is more going in their than Murderbot knows what to do with.
“Just remember you’re not alone here.”
I never know what to say to that. I am actually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are

With a new bad guy to focus on Network effect leaves behind the troubles with GrayCris and finds other things in the universe to be afraid of. It appears that other companies have done or are doing some very questionable things and Murderbot will again need to pull out a few miracles to save some of his favorite ‘clients’ and ARTs crew.

I had a fantastic time in this book and really liked the direction the story took and how many more possibilities it opens up for Murderbot long term. My favorite thing in the book was ART and murderbot making a baby. Not really, but sort of, you’ll see when you get there.

If you were a fan of the short stories in this series I hope that you enjoy this full length story that was able to dig a little deeper into the mind of my favorite Cyborg Unit.
Profile Image for Michelle F.
232 reviews70 followers
May 23, 2022
I love these books, and a reread is doing happy things for my soul

One of the things I appreciate so much is the exploration of connection throughout the whole series. In this full length novel we get to touch on multiple aspects of it: Murderbot's humans, the extended community of Murderbot's humans, ART (ART!), ART's humans, and various machines and constructs. In what can be, at surface level, a great adventure story with a fractious narrator, we're also getting a really careful consideration of what it means to relate; one that goes far beyond the way we tend to oversimplify or easily define in our own lives.

There's the whole rest of the story, too, which contains all the other hallmarks of the series thus far, in longer form. It's great. I'm taking comfort in the elements that are maybe a bit repetitive while enjoying the fun scenarios that Wells creates to freshen things up.

While at moments I was longing for the tidyness of the novella format of the previous offerings, there were long stretches where I was happy to be immersed and know that it wasn't going to end anytime soon.

While marketed as a standalone, I'm not sure that is the best approach to the novel. The whole series is wonderful, and really builds to this point in SecUnit's personal arc.
Profile Image for The Captain.
1,096 reviews404 followers
May 5, 2020
Update (5/5/2020): Ahoy there mateys!!!   RELEASE DAY!!!!!  I LOVE MURDERBOT!!!!!!

The crew should know at this point that I LOVE MURDERBOT!!!  In fact, it be fair to say I be a bit obsessed.  I have read the four novellas in the series multiple times and have disciplined those crew members who have not yet met the Murderbot.  I consider know meself as the number one fan.  I read this FULL-LENGTH Murderbot novel a while back because Matey Tammy @ Books,Bones,&Buffy gave me an Arc.  Then I reread it yesterday to celebrate the release.  Am I gonna tell ye what it's about?  NO ABSOLUTELY NOT.  This be one of the time where spend yer loot on something other than vittles, grog, and tobaccee.  That's an order.

Once ye have caught up, celebrate with me that #6, Fugitive Telemetry, is scheduled for 2021.  Arrrr!

Update (1/29/2020): I loved it. Can I have some more? Arrrr!

I was denied a copy of network effect on Edelweiss! Why oh why? I be devastated. I neeed more Murderbot! I LOVE MURDERBOT!!! I be so sad that I want to toss meself overboard. But then I would never get more Murderbot! May 5, 2020 cannot come soon enough. Arrrrr!
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