Exit Strategy is the best book (yet!) in Martha Well’s amazing Murderbot series.
While each book in the series can be enjoyed as a standalone read, here is a quick summary of where we stand. In All Systems Red, we saw Murderbot save the PreservationAux team from the evil GrayCris, while in Artificial Condition, we saw it ally with ART to trace its origins, which involves a lot of dead humans. After unearthing proof of GreyCris’ transgression in the third book, Rogue Protocol, Murderbot is now heading home to find Dr. Mensah, its former owner/protector/friend in Exit Strategy and submit evidence that could finally thwart GrayCris.
I have to get this out of my chest. I LOVE Murderbot. I cannot get enough of it. One paragraph into the first book was all it took to establish a lasting emotional connection with this self-aware robot.
Murderbot: “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 or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, a little under 35,00 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.”
Over the course of 4 books, this emotional connection has grown stronger as has Murderbot’s empathy to humans. In a far cry from its I-don’t-care-ish attitude in the first book to actually consider hugging a human, Murderbot has essentially learned what it means to be human in the process. Murderbot still finds humans generally exasperating but is now willing to risk its life for the people that it comes to protect and care about. There are several moments where I found Murderbot endearingly similar to Abed (Community), who also tries to make sense of the world through movies and TV shows.
Murderbot: “I hate having emotions about real humans instead of fake ones, it just leads to stupid moments like this.”
Given its ability to intercept and interpret electromagnetic signals, hack its way into anything, and operate at a frighteningly fast speed, I’ve always been fascinated with how Murderbot handles various ‘situations’ and it is no different in Exit Strategy when it embarks on a complex interstellar mission to find Mensah. While I generally enjoy Murderbot’s monologues, I love it better when it is forced to interact with humans and Exit Strategy has its fair share of memorable dialogues.
The massive action-laden final showdown is utterly compelling and is followed by a satisfyingly ending that sets things up nicely for the upcoming standalone novel, Network Effect. Exit Strategy is a fast-paced, thoroughly enjoyable read and the best book (yet!) in Martha Well’s amazing Murderbot series, which I cannot recommend highly enough.