Review | Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells

Murderbot’s back to retrieve it’s human not-friend, do some murder, and give you emotions. Spoiler warning for previous books, All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, and Rogue Protocol.


[Goodreads Link]
Published by Tor.com Imprint

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Content Warnings:
Genre-typical descriptions of violence, gun violence, blood and injuries, and kidnapping.

The Good
– Murderbot at its most emotional and most badass 
(seriously, I know it’s already badass supreme, but oh my god)
– Returning cast favourites! Reunions!
– Satisfying conclusion to Murderbot’s character arc thus far
– Readable, accessible, fitting writing style

The Bad
– Again, beginning is a biiit slow
– That’s it! Exit Strategy is legit top-shelf Murderbot

It sounds all self-sacrificing and dramatic, telling it this way. And I guess it was, maybe. What I was mostly thinking was that there wasn’t going to be one dead SecUnit on this embarkation floor, there were going to be four.

Sending SecUnits after me was one thing. But they sent SecUnits after my client. No one gets to walk away from that.

Story—★★★★★ (4.5 Stars)
Murderbot has returned to give the evidence it found in Rogue Protocol to Dr. Mensah and Preservation to stop GrayCris. But now GrayCris has kidnapped Dr. Mensah in the hopes of pressuring Preservation to drop its case against them. Enter Murderbot: it SURE ISN’T going to let GrayCris get away with this bullshit.

Honestly? Exit Strategy is one of the best Murderbots in the series. I mean, there are no bad Murderbot books, but there’s topshelf and like, the next shelf up, you know?

After travelling on its own, Murderbot still isn’t 100% sure what it wants to do, but in Exit Strategy, it’s getting definitively closer to its answer, and who it wants to spend time with. Its reunion with its former clients from Preservation is perfectly on the mark, and its reunion a particular human was one of the best parts in the series so far. Exit Strategy has such a good balance of emotional moments and pure Murderbot badassery, while still carrying its trademark sarcasm from beginning to end. Wells is excellent at stacking action scenes, propelling Murderbot from one fight to another while piling on its wounds and upping the stakes. (And remembering to sneak in little breathers between!) I’m talking chef-kiss skilled, folks. Lining up fight scenes like this is hard, and Wells is very clearly both practised and skilled.

My only complaint is the same complaint I’ve had for Rogue Protocol (…and Network Effect, now that I’ve gone ahead and read it.) The beginning is a bit slow. Wells takes a bit too long to the set-up. Murderbot talks a lot about the obvious: there either needs to be more new information here or less of the obvious stretched out. Like I said: a biiit. That’s why it’s only half a star off. I’ve read 120K word-long novels where maybe two things actually happen and the rest is just blah blah blah filler, so.

Characters—★★★★★
Exit Strategy sees a distinct step forward in Murderbot’s character arc and relationships. It may not have all the answers, but it knows what it doesn’t want, and it knows who’s got its back—which includes some surprises.

The return of its former clients from Preservation is a huge highlight here: we see the return of not only the strongest set of supporting characters, but Murderbot interacting with them from a new point of view. This Murderbot has travelled, and learned, and decided things for itself. It’s not a Murderbot whose crew recently discovered their SecUnit was fully autonomous. They’re all interacting on a more levelled field. Some of the best parts of Exit Strategy are when Murderbot interacts with it’s favourite—and least favourite—humans.

Writing Style—★★★★☆
Told in first person, past tense, Wells conveys Exit Strategy in a conversational, accessible, and wry style, which suits Murderbot’s voice and personality perfectly. If Murderbot was it its most hilarious in Rogue Protocol, it’s at its most emotional and most badass in Exit Strategy.

Themes and Representation—★★★★★
Although Exit Strategy doesn’t offer all the answers raised about humanity and humanness and autonomy, etc. in the previous books, we do have answers, and sometimes the answer is that the answer doesn’t matter, as long as you’re asking the questions

The Murderbot Diaries are set in a queernorm world, where polyamory is common and where there appears to be no laws or stigma against what gender one partners with. Based on last names, Mensah is part Ghanaian, and Pin-Lee is Korean, I believe.

Overall—★★★★★

Recommended For…
Murderbot fans; sarcastic murder construct fans; people who think they could be Murderbot fans but have yet to take the leap.

Genres: Novella, Science Fiction, Robot Fiction, Cyberpunk


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3 thoughts on “Review | Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells

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