A Spoiler Free review of All Systems Red by Martha Wells
All Systems Red is the first novel in the Murderbot series by Martha Wells, which currently has five installments published and a sixth on the way. Murderbot is a non-binary SecUnit with asexual and antisocial tendencies.
My Rating: 4.8 / 5
As an introvert, I’ve never related to anyone more than Murderbot. This novella series is centered around Murderbot, and I would consider this a character driven series. The plot kind of takes a step back to give the main character the full spotlight, and by the stars does that work for me.
The writing is simple and straightforward, which is in line with how our first person narrator would probably tell this story. Murderbot is well written with a distinct voice and personality, and they are incredibly funny. Murderbot’s dry sense of humor had me giggling all the way through this short novella.
The Science Fiction world that Murderbot lives in isn’t anything heavy. This world is merely a backdrop for the real star of the show, Murderbot, therefore it isn’t explored much in this first installment. I would not consider this a hard SciFi, so much so that I would even say it’s a good introduction into the genre for those who aren’t already SciFi readers.
Favorite Character(s): Murderbot (obvs) and Dr. Mensah (Because she’s a bad *ss)
- “You may have noticed that when I do manage to care, I’m a pessimist.”
- “I liked the imaginary people on the entertainment feed way more than I liked real ones, but you can’t have one without the other.”
- “Yes, talk to Murderbot about its feelings. The idea was so painful I dropped to 97 percent efficiency. I’d rather climb back into Hostile One’s mouth.”
With all of that said, this novella isn’t perfect. It is incredibly short and fast paced, which I think made this read feel a bit too fast (but not enough to make me remove a full star from my rating). There are certain strategy planning moments that are skipped over entirely, which I didn’t find an issue with, but some of the people in my book club did find that to be a negative. If you are the type to really want a lot of depth and world building from a story, this may not be it for you. This story is more along the lines of a self discovery contemporary that takes place in futuristic space following a Murderbot.
Because this story is short, it is not very deep and not a lot happens. I like to think of it as the pilot episode to a TV series. We got to see some of the world and were introduced to our main character, but we’ve only scratched the surface at this point. I am hoping that the rest of the novellas give us some more of the world and characters, if not then the story is still funny and entertaining enough that I wouldn’t be mad.
Lastly, I noticed some writing choices in the first chapter that felt chunky. I think this was just a personal preference kind of issue, but it did not persist in the rest of the novella. At least I didn’t notice if the style continued, because it no longer felt chunky.
The main character is a Murderbot, so it is safe to say there will be some gun/knife fights and such. There are some dead humans in this story, but I personally wouldn’t say it’s graphic.
There is a mention of sex scenes in media, but there isn’t any sex described, just mentioned as a concept.
Murderbot has social anxiety and really doesn’t want to be around people. There is also an underlying message about racism and human rights, but like I said before, this story doesn’t get very deep due to its format/length.
Do I recommend this series and who do I recommend it to?
- Yes! I found this novella to be so funny and relatable, so if the synopsis or this review makes you the tiniest bit interested, I highly recommend giving it a go. I don’t think this book would be inappropriate for a younger audience, say no younger than 12 or 13, but that is really up to the individual’s parents/guardians to decide.
Would I read this book again and will I continue with the rest of the series?
- Yes to both. I can’t wait to get the second book. These books aren’t very long, which I think motivates me to continue. Additionally, Murderbot is just so fun and relatable. How could I not continue?!
Thanks for checking out my review of All Systems Red!
Have you read this book? What did you think about it? Did I miss anything?
If you have any suggestions to add to my reviews, please let me know! I want to be as helpful as possible!
Don’t forget to check out my recent review of Once & Future!
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