Exit Strategy by Martha Wells. ★★★★
I really love Murderbot. My family’s probably tired of hearing me talk about this series, so it’s lucky I have a review blog to gush on. If you’re confused right now and thinking, “What is Murderbot?” then you need to go read Martha Wells’ excellent (and award-winning) novella, All Systems Red.
Exit Strategy is the fourth and final novella in the series, although there is a novel on the way! Regardless, Exit Strategy closes out the narrative arc set up by All Systems Red.
Murderbot is on its way to give evidence against GreyCris to Dr. Mensah, when it hears some disturbing news. Dr. Mensah has been kidnapped by GreyCris, who thinks she was behind the events of Rogue Protocol. Murderbot’s not good with friendships or humans, but it does care about Dr. Mensah, and it’s determined to rescue her from the nefarious GreyCris corporation.
Reading Exit Strategy, I realized that I’m not super into the action sequences. Those aren’t the reason I read the Murderbot Diaries — I’m here for the characterization and interpersonal interactions. I just love the character of Murderbot so much! And it’s character growth is wonderful. From the get-go, Murderbot has been denied personhood. Really, this whole series has sort of been about it claiming its own personhood and identity. Then, it’s also about Murderbot creating bonds with others. The past two novellas have focused on Murderbot’s bonds with other robots (which I think was the right move), but Exit Strategy explores the question set up by the last novella: is it possible for a robot and a human to be friends given the inequality they face?
Murderbot’s character and voice define this novella series, and the story is tightly focused on Murderbot. The larger world is lightly sketched out, and that 100% works. Not every story needs super detailed world building. And in this case, the impressionist sketch of the world reflects Murderbot’s own limited knowledge, as it mainly only knows about the outside world from the media it’s constantly watching.
Look, if you didn’t already like Murderbot, you probably wouldn’t be reading this review. And if you’re already a fan, then Exit Strategy will just give you more reasons to love this series and character.