Review: System Collapse by Martha Wells





Am I making it worse? I think I’m making it worse.

Everyone’s favorite lethal SecUnit is back.

Following the events in Network Effect, the Barish-Estranza corporation has sent rescue ships to a newly-colonized planet in peril, as well as additional SecUnits. But if there’s an ethical corporation out there, Murderbot has yet to find it, and if Barish-Estranza can’t have the planet, they’re sure as hell not leaving without something. If that something just happens to be an entire colony of humans, well, a free workforce is a decent runner-up prize.

But there’s something wrong with Murderbot; it isn’t running within normal operational parameters. ART’s crew and the humans from Preservation are doing everything they can to protect the colonists, but with Barish-Estranza’s SecUnit-heavy persuasion teams, they’re going to have to hope Murderbot figures out what’s wrong with itself, and fast!

Yeah, this plan is… not going to work.


After reading six books in this series, one might assume that I would have exhausted my vocabulary when it comes to expressing my enthusiasm for The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. I am not exactly sure why these compact novellas continue to captivate me. It could be attributed to the remarkable skill displayed by Wells in crafting a fast-paced, humor-infused narrative that encompasses various ups and downs, unexpected twists and turns, all within a limited number of pages, ultimately providing a satisfying conclusion. Or, it might be the impeccable storytelling ability of our cherished protagonist, the SecUnit, also known as Murderbot, who recounts the events from its own unique perspective. I cannot pinpoint the exact reason, but I am unequivocally infatuated with this series.

Reviewing a novella is quite different from reviewing a full-length book, as there are unique challenges and limitations involved. Nevertheless, I will endeavor to provide a comprehensive and fair evaluation of this delightful gem to the best of my abilities.

Similar to its predecessors, System Collapse, the latest installment in this series, maintained the same level of excellence. I devoured each page with eagerness as Murderbot, accompanied by its Preservation humans, ART, and the newly introduced AI crew member, Three, embarked on a fresh expedition. New planet, new characters, new adventure and yes a lot of Crescent Moon.

Once again, Martha Wells showcased her brilliance in crafting a captivating world and developing compelling characters within the confines of this novella. From the very beginning, she thrusts the reader into an action-packed scene, skillfully weaving elements of intrigue, suspense, humor, and empathy throughout the pages of System Collapse with a remarkable sense of elegance.

One of the aspects that I adore the most about Murderbot is its distinct perspective on humans and the events unfolding around it. Witnessing its attempts to comprehend human nature, including the often perplexing realm of human relationships, is both amusing and enlightening. Martha Wells skillfully portrays this through Murderbot’s narration, presenting a remarkable contrast between the complexities of human emotions and the straightforwardness of a non-emotional perspective. It serves as a testament to Wells’ exceptional storytelling ability, as she highlights the core essence of a problem and illuminates the simplicity that can arise when emotions are removed from the equation.

In System Collapse, I found myself genuinely touched by Murderbot’s earnest efforts to convey to the inhabitants of the new planet that the Preservation crew had arrived with the intention of offering assistance. Its approach involved creating a comprehensive documentary that meticulously documented the heinous actions committed by the Barish-Estranza corporation against humans on various planets. This act of advocacy and information sharing demonstrated Murderbot’s deep sense of empathy and its unwavering commitment to justice and truth. It was truly heartwarming to witness Murderbot’s determination to make a positive impact and to witness the power of knowledge and awareness in fostering understanding and change. Leave it to an AI to come up with a plan to save humans from their own kind. That was a sure wake up call.

I always loved how Art and Murderbot banter and bicker with each other like two siblings. The System Collapse was no different. Their exchanges were hilarious. And their shared passion for tv shows and movies are so endearing. It was particularly amusing to observe Murderbot’s perplexity when Three, the new addition to their AI crew, did not share their passion for fictional human dramas and movies, instead preferring non-fiction and educational documentaries. The stark contrast in their preferences created a comedic dynamic and added another layer of humor to the story. Martha Wells skillfully incorporated these humorous elements, showcasing the complexity of human interests and the contrasting perspectives of AI characters, resulting in an engaging and entertaining narrative.

In conclusion, System Collapse proved to be another triumph in The Murderbot Diaries series. I thoroughly enjoyed every single page of this novella and eagerly anticipate what Martha Wells has in store for Murderbot’s future exploits. The series continues to captivate as Murderbot evolves and navigates its coexistence with both human and AI crew members. It is a testament to Wells’ storytelling prowess that she consistently delivers compelling narratives that leave readers eagerly yearning for more. I eagerly look forward to the next adventure and the further growth and development of this beloved character.

My sincere thanks to Netgalley, Tor Publishing and Martha Wells for providing me this advance reader copy.

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