Author: Martha Wells
Release: October 2nd 2018
Received: Review copy from Tor
Thanks Tor for the advanced copy of Exit Strategy!
The conclusion of a series is always a bittersweet moment. While it was tempting to rush through and read all of Exit Strategy the moment it arrived on my doorstop, I knew that I’d only be able to read it for the first time just once. Therefore I stopped and forced myself to read it slowly and savor it while I could.
Murderbot has been such a fantastic character, right from the very beginning. Now, four books in, it’s hard to believe that we’re being forced to say goodbye. They’ve become such an iconic and oddly lovable character. It speaks volumes to Martha Wells’ writing talent that she was able to write a character that was simultaneously incredible human while adamantly being against the idea of actually being human.
What I love almost as much as the series itself is listening to others and how they react to the series. Reading and seeing their theories for Murderbot and the world they live it. It’s rapidly become such a fantastic and welcoming community. Everyone I know that has read the series has something to say about it, and the fact that they feel like Murderbot has become such a part of their lives is exciting.
I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry. Okay, let me quality that statement. Those conflicted emotions have more to do with this being the last in the series than anything else. I’m absolutely awful about saying goodbye to the series I love, and I openly admit that fact.
There are several things I’ve come to expect from our wonderful Murderbot. I expect/hope for: sass, confusion about humans and emotions, fascinating fight scenes, babbling about shows, determination, doing the right thing even when it sucks, and another healthy dose of sass. Exit Strategy doesn’t fail me on any of those counts, and I couldn’t be happier.
Honestly there’s so much good to this series, and the finale in particular, that I’m finding myself struggling to pick something to talk about. As a book reviewer I’ve gotten pretty used to using my words to describe my love (or not) of a novel, so I feel like that is saying something.
Exit Strategy brings the story around full circle, just as promised. We find ourselves heading back to the same characters we met in the first novel, and more importantly Murderbot finds themselves having to interact with them once again. It was fascinating reading about Murderbot’s conflicted and confused emotions about the whole process, and it made me love them that much more.
I’ve always been impressed by Murderbot’s ability to multitask. I know, I know, they’re a SecUnit and therefore are very good about that sort of thing. But still, who doesn’t wish they could consume their favorite media while simultaneously successfully doing their job? That sounds wonderful. Okay, maybe not the job part in this case, but you know what I mean. I do feel like Exit Strategy in particular did a fantastic job of showing us just how far Murderbot could split their focus and still complete the tasks with efficiency.
Did I mention the sass? Many humans have a natural way of shielding themselves in uncomfortable situations: they sass or backtalk to people to appear bolder. Murderbot does that too, though it’s significantly more endearing when they do it (totally not biased here or anything). But it raises a question that’s been running in the background of this whole series; if Murderbot does something as human as this to deflect their emotions, what does that mean? When does sentience start? This raises the even more uncomfortable question of the legality of owning and ordering SecUnits like Murderbot. I love this sort of mental debate, as I feel it adds a whole new level to the complexity of a story.
It would take no effort at all to fill up several pages with the debate on the humanity of Murderbot, and frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody has already done that. It’s out there, somewhere on the internet. I can assure you of that. But still, it’s hard not to appreciate what Martha Wells has managed to accomplish in such a short amount of time.
The last thing I’d like to gush about, naturally, would be the fight scenes. I’ve always found the action in this series to be pulse-poundingly good, and this is no exception. I actually read the major fight scenes once, rapidly, and then again, more slowly, as there are so many additional details to pick up and process during intense scenes. There was one scene that really pushed us forward in realizing just what Murderbot is and isn’t capable of. It was outstanding, and really did do a lot to help wrap up the series.
While I am sad to see the series end, I am very happy that it was so successful. And at least I can always go back and re-read the series a million or two times. I hope we see more of this sort of storytelling from Martha Wells in the future.