Title: Network Effect
Author: Martha Wells
Genre: Science Fiction
Subgenre: Space Opera
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.
Reading a Murderbot book in one sitting wasn’t much of a challenge when they were just novellas, but Network Effect is the first Murderbot novel—so I ended up sitting in one spot for so long, eyes glued to the page, that my muscles were stiff by the time I finally moved.
Because, I mean, how could you possibly put down a Murderbot book before you finish it?
Like all the preceding Murderbot stories, Network Effect is one continuous barrage of action and adventure interrupted only by Muderbot’s hilarious and earnest moments of introspection.
Set after the conclusion of Exit Strategy, the fourth novella, this novels begins with Murderbot finally living a peaceful existence in the Preservation…
While Murderbot is staying with Dr. Mensah and all the other friends it made during its earlier adventures, it’s still acting as security on dangerous missions. But this time, Murderbot is acting of its volition, and protecting people that it actually likes (though it’s loath to admit as much). So when someone—or rather, something—brazenly kidnaps one of Murderbot’s new friends, the war is on.
Pretty much the only difference between this novel and the novellas is that the extra pages allowed for a more complicated plot, with several more twists and turns than it was possible for Wells to fit in the novellas. And I personally found this to be an improvement from the novellas, because I always love a good mystery element—that is, I like to be kept guessing at where the plot is heading next—no matter the primary genre.
What might be a con for some readers is that there are very few lulls in the action of this book, particularly in the second half; I know that some people get worn out from nearly continuous action sequences with little breathing room between them. I am not one of those people, however, especially when a book’s narrator is as amusing as Murderbot.
So, for me, Network Effect gets another top-notch rating.