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

Rating: 10/10

Synopsis

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

Network Effect is book #5 in Martha Wells’ The Murderbot Diaries, and the first full-length novel in the series. I gave the previously-released 4-novella set a glowing review here. As for my review of Network Effect, you are going to find more of the same.

When I say “more of the same”, I mean as far as luminosity of words is concerned. Network Effect is even better than the previous books in the series, and there are are a few reasons for that. Starting with the fact that Wells clearly took an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality with this book. People love Murderbot because it is grumpy, snarky, and really does not like humans (for the most part) but LOVES TV. It is also super smart and strong, and able to think on the fly really well. The author did us all a favor and left these aspects of the series unchanged in Network Effect, while improving in a few other areas (what little there is to improve upon, that is).

For starters, Murderbot is growing.

This all would have been a lot easier if I wasn’t so worried about the stupid humans.

Okay, so it still does not like humans, but it has grown not to hate them. Some of them. A few… of them? But that is more than when this series started, so that is something. Not to mention Murderbot’s growing relationship with ART.

ART’s processing capacity made me look like I was moving in slow motion. This made ART capable of both enormous patience and also of becoming furious when it didn’t get what it wanted immediately. It was one of the few ways I could successfully mess with it.

I know how that sounds, but, really, Murderbot and ART are friends. This is just how they show affection! Sure they have their ups and downs, but they always make up in the end.

It could stare at me all it wanted, I’m not apologizing.

Sure, they can be cheeky, sometimes, which is what makes this relationship all the more spicey! The collaboration between Murderbot and ART is one of my favorites in literature. There is a ton of give and take, and I love the way they constantly challenge each other.

Plot-wise Network Effect is pedal-to-the-medal start to finish. Not that the first set of books were not action-y (because they were), but this book saw almost none of the lulls of experienced by the previous releases. Murderbot and friends… err… crew are constantly getting into messes that Murderot has to get them out of. And if I came for the snark, I stayed for the skirmishes, because this book is full of them. That is what makes Network Effect so un-put-down-able, the constant question of how, not if, they are going to make it out alive. There are a few surprises along the way, too, that take the plot to another level.

The setting is also expanded in this book. As I mentioned in my previous review, there is no grand explanation of the futuristic space world where these books take place, and that does not change with Network Effect. As with the previous books, the reader gets a snippet, a cross-section of the place and time without giving a ton of information about the universe as a whole. The great part is that Wells does take the time to give the reader a close-up of the very specific places where where the story is set. In my opinion, the proximity decisions made by the author in this series continue to impress.

I’m a murderbot, I don’t give a crap about boats.

Maybe Murderbot is less impressed with some of the placement decisions, but I think they are great. Who are you going to believe, anyway, the android who would hurt you if you tried to hug it or your friendly neighborhood book blogger?

It’s usually a good idea to warn bot/human constructs who call themselves Murderbot before making grabby hands…

We get it Murderbot. We get it. Let’s call it a day before it jumps back in with more advice.

Suffice it to say, The Murderbot Diaries just keeps getting better and better. Network Effect is my favorite, so far, due to the fact that it kept what has worked up to this point and made improvements around the margins that moved it to near-perfection. It gets my highest recommendation. If you have not already picked up The Murderbot Diaries, what are you waiting for?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Paul's Picks says:

    Very cool!! I’ve only read the first… I need to catch up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For sure. It is so much fun.

      Liked by 1 person

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