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Book review: All Systems Red, by Martha Wells

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Book review: All Systems Red, by Martha Wells

A trio of amateur heroines battle an evil, lawsuit-happy science-fiction cult in the first novel in the Neitherlands series.

Book review: All Systems Red, by Martha Wells

All Systems Red

All Systems Red
The Murderbot Diaries #1
by Martha Wells
May 2, 2017
Review rating 4/5

I’m in love with Murderbot. And for that alone I can’t recommend this novel enough.

I’ve read several of Martha Wells books before. I ran into The Books of the Raksura while browsing Amazon for some fantasy and the illustration (it’s always the illustration) caught my eye and ended up reading most of the series (I believe I never read the last book,) not just for the storyline (which was quite good I recall,) but because the setting was amazing.

In All Systems Red, Wells takes a different direction. The setting this time around feels rather generic, but the main character more than makes up for it. Murderbot, a genderless robot whose job is to protect a group of humans in an alien planet, is easily the best MC I’ve read in a long while. Funny, at times philosophical, and always lazy it’s Murderbot’s narrative what gives this book a soul. Who would have thought having a lazy, uninteresting, rather reluctant hero who would rather be alone watching TV serials would have as a result such an entertaining book?

(Martha Wells, that’s who. She wrote the book, after all.)

I don’t think I can say much more about the book beyond praising Murderbot. This is because the storyline, while far from boring, was (for me) not the driving force of the novel. Without spoiling it, it’s a part-mystery where Murderbot’s humans are getting attacked in an environment that’s supposed to be friendly and, while it touches on some interesting philosophical issues, I felt it was not the center here. I would even dare say this would be a rather dull book weren’t it for its MC and the impressive way Mrs. Wells wrote it.

So my final take here is: If you’re looking for an enthralling adventure filled with political intrigue, plot twists, and action scenes, this is absolutely not your book. But if you’re willing to look past the story itself and see this book as what it is —a masterclass in how character development done well can be more than enough to keep a whole novel afloat — then read this book. Join the Murderbot fanclub.

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