Review: Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells [audiobook]

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having already reviewed the previous three installments of Martha Wells's The Muderbot Diaries, I'm not sure I have much left to say about this series. In fact, there's a line toward the end of Exit Strategy that sums it up my general thoughts to this series of audiobooks as a whole pretty well (although since I listened to this in audiobook I'll have to paraphrase the sentiment): "It's a good story, even if the tone is a bit dry."

The dryness in tone largely stems from narrator Kevin R. Free, who does a serviceable job here but who, also, over the course of four books has yet to impress me performance-wise. The character of Muderbot strikes me as having more in the way of feelings and expressions, even as an artificial intelligence, than Free's interpretation allows. Free slips into some fairly monotone deliveries, which absolutely kill my attention. It's hard to pay much attention to a story when a narrator cannot engage you, and unfortunately I found myself mentally checking out and wandering away from Exit Strategy frequently.

Story-wise, Exit Strategy is simple, even for a novella. Wells brings back the cast of human characters from book #1 as Murderbot's investigation into the evil corporation GrayCris comes full circle and he returns to deliver evidence of this company's conspiracy to Dr. Mensah. Easy right?

Well, there's a few wrinkles here and there, but as with the prior episodes in this series it's mostly pretty straight-forward. Wells continues to provide some interesting doses of Murderbot's introspection and its interaction with other artificial intelligences and bots proves just as intriguing as its relationships with humans.

Murderbot continues to be a fascinating character in its own right, and even in this fourth novella Wells still finds new facets of this rogue SecUnit's personality and motivations. As far as antisocial killing machines who are addicted to intergalactic soap operas, Murderbot is a surprisingly charming character and with a full-length novel due out in 2020 I'm happy to know neither Wells nor Tor are finished with its story just yet.

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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