A self-directed armed cyborg, finding its own way in the universe, decides to check out an abandoned terraforming station. Only the station isn’t quite as abandoned as everyone thought.
Having picked up the first in the series (All Systems Red) for free, I picked up this third on NetGalley as well. With some discomfort, I read the two in succession, despite not having the intervening book, and had no difficulty following along.
Where the first book got by with a thinly sketched plot, this third book stumbles. There’s no convincing logic for the whole setup of the book – a visit to the terraforming station. It works, but the poor foundation was a niggling irritant throughout my reading, exacerbated by an ending that screams ‘This was a discrete episode!’ (in a longer series).
That latter really is my complaint about the book and the series. There are four books planned to date, and there’s no getting away from the fact that this feels like a slightly large novel cut into four novellas. A subplot that might have worked well in a novel here feels artificial and forced. The lead-in feels authorial, and the ending is abrupt and jarring. While I can see the potential for a larger arc across the series, it feels like it should have been the plot of a single book. Unlike the first book, this book isn’t satisfying on its own.
On the plus side, the voice and character work nearly as well this time as before. There are unfortunately even more parentheticals (way too many) than before, but generally the piece moves along well.
If this piece had been the latter part of a novel, I’d have liked it better. As is, it left me dissatisfied.
14 September 2018 Science fiction | Martha Wells | Murderbot Diaries |