This series is shaping up to be an uneven one – good novellas providing gradually less and less appeal, then a strong novel, now another good novella. Unfortunately, it feels too much like an episode to be satisfying, and I fear that more of the same will suffer the same decline as the first set of novellas.
Wells continues to have the same strong voice, the same keen sense of balance – what to leave in, what to leave out – and Murderbot is fun to spend time with. But the story overall feels cropped. As part of a novel with a longer, more complex arc, it would have worked well. As a standalone, I found it offered too little.
I’m concerned about the future of this series. Voice-wise, it could go quite a long ways, as Murderbot continues to grow and find itself. Chopped up into these little segments, though, I don’t find it appealing. Maybe there’s a market for a long series of novellas, but I’m finding it prevents me from getting very involved, and prevents Murderbot from making much progress in its development, which makes this into a series of little action thrillers without much character. That’s a shame, since Murderbot is such a great character to work with, and Wells is good at character (action too, but better at character). It’s taking a bunch of great baking materials and making a bunch of microwave mug cakes instead of a real cake. It’s similar, but not as good, and I hope Tor wakes up and buys novels instead.
You could make an argument that this isn’t too much shorter than many of the novels published in the 60s and early 70s. But those were intended as full novels, and read that way – just quickly. This feels like it’s intended as a quick fix, not a fully developed novel. So, not the same thing.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.