Title: Exit Strategy.
Series: The Murderbot Diaries #4.
Writer(s): Martha Wells.
Release Date: October 2nd, 2018.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
Previously in The Murderbot Diaries series:
All Systems Red by Martha Wells.
Artificial Condition by Martha Wells.
Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells.
What makes us human? Some will find the answer in our ability to communicate, others will look towards our sense of creativity, but maybe the answer is far more complex than that. For one Murderbot, it has never been simple to understand humans, especially when all it ever wanted was for its introverted self to be left alone with its soap operas. Then again, it still always finds itself in situations where understanding humans was essential to its own survival, sometimes even having to act like them better than they could to escape from between a rock and a hard place. Despite a full-novel picking up the story of Murderbot afterward as well as an unreleased 6th entry in the franchise to come out in 2021, this fourth novella remains the originally planned out end to this ex-security android’s exhilarating adventures through space.
What is Exit Strategy about? Picking up where the previous story-arc ended, this chapter in Murderbot’s life, always without its governor module dictating its purpose, sends it into the heart of the action in search of Dr. Mensah. While it now has the evidence it sought to expose the GrayCris corporation of the evil that they have been bathing in, it isn’t yet sure how to reach the only ally it knows without compromising itself and the package that it possesses. Devising a plan to infiltrate and then execute an extraction will likely come at a cost but serendipitous encounters will have it attempt the impossible, hoping that everything ends without a hitch. But will it?
Writer Martha Wells capitalizes on the very ingredients that made her previous Murderbot Diaries novellas succeed as she embarked on this pseudo-conclusion to her beloved series. Although it begins at a relatively slower pace as it sets up the protagonist’s course towards the enemy base, it is a rare moment of little interaction with other bots and people for this android but ultimately reminds the reader that it still has incredible hacking abilities and technological knowledge allowing it to assess situations at lightning speed and take over the narrative of its life through meticulous decision-making executed better than any human ever could. It’s towards the halfway point that the story picks up a lot more speed and throws the readers on an engrossing and heart-stopping espionage thriller before tackling the very idea hinted in the title of this novella.
From its love for the soap opera Sanctuary Moon to its cynical perception of other bots and people, this latest adventure remains a necessary and comforting chapter in Murderbot’s personal growth. After all, without its governor module, it never was stuck in a predetermined life void of agency. In this novella, it further explores the complexity and nuances of being human despite not being one in the first place. Building on what we’ve seen it experience in the previous novellas, this journey, where choices were made and a purpose was identified out of its own personal will power, gave way to the long-awaited transformation of its own core life essence. With that being said, writer Martha Wells simply knew that there was no better ending than the one presented here, concluding this adventure with emotional tact and consideration while reminding us all why we love Murderbot.
Exit Strategy is a thrilling and high-paced trip conveniently exploring Murderbot’s journey of self-discovery.