Network Effect by Martha Wells

TITLENetwork Effect.
SeriesThe Murderbot Diaries #5.
Writer(s)Martha Wells.
RELEASE DATE: May 5th 2020.
PAGES: 350.
ISBN13:  9781250229861.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells.


If there’s one thing in the world that will remain complex no matter what, it’s our identity. It can be fragmentary, just like it can be unambiguous. It can be consistent through time, just like it can evolve through experience. But what does it mean to be human? Can our identity be split between body and mind? Matter and consciousness? For one Murderbot, the question remains a mystery, a mystery that complicates its wish to live an uninterrupted and peaceful life filled with soap operas and good old quiet time. At least with each adventure, it slowly learns the intricacies of being human and its own identity in the grand scheme of things. And so, rejoice, fellow Murderbot fans, as the fifth entry in writer Martha Wells’ franchise is the first full-length novel and, unfortunately for this sophisticated being, trouble continues to follow the humans around it and it will have to find new ways to protect them, wherever that leads it.

What is Network Effect about? Picking up where things were left off in Exit Strategy, Murderbot finally embraces peace as it’s welcomed amidst Dr. Mensah’s family and social circle, patiently waiting for its new mission. Not too long after acquainting her family, especially her daughter Amena, Murderbot is tasked to accompany a team on a survey expedition and nothing could’ve prepared them for the intergalactic kidnapping they are about to take part in. Things couldn’t get more suspicious until they also run into an old associate of Murderbot that doesn’t seem to be responding as usual. While Murderbot would’ve loved to be spared all this trouble, it is forced to take action and to find a way to keep these silly humans alive while also lending a hand to someone from its past life, whether it wants to or not.

“I hate emotions.

— Martha Wells

Was going full-length instead of a novella-length detrimental to this Murderbot’s legacy? Hell no. Anyone who has returned for more of its shenanigans will get just that, if not more of its snarky, cynical, and despairing self. Action-packed from start to finish, with a bit more world-building and character development, writer Martha Well fully explores her protagonist’s transformation and self-realization, allowing readers to further grasp its torment in regards to its resentment towards its ability to feel, like humans. To make matters even more terrifying for this Murderbot, its organic parts continue to irk it beyond understanding, making it want to kill itself when there’s anything remotely related to leaking and bleeding.

While this sentient murder machine initially programmed for destruction continues to discover the hidden component of its mind, and the complex nature of human beings, it is also confronted with the concept of relationship. Through its new bond with Dr. Mensah’s daughter, it uncovers the role of authority and motherhood. Through its old bond with its past friend, they share an old couple’s dynamic, disguising their care for each other with grumpiness and constant remarks towards one another. These multiple relationships allow Murderbot to further complexify its own algorithms and better understand what it is becoming.

Of course, there’s no shortness of action to keep it engaged from start to finish. This is what allows its stories to be relentless, constantly entertaining, and engaging. Its complete thought processes are shared through its omniscient narration, spelling out all of the options at hand or the procedure that it will complete to achieve its goals. This allows Murderbot to display its personality without any filter, sharing its despair whenever the situation derails. Whether its actions require a split second or a whole minute, it is through this intimate journaling of its adventure that readers continue to be attached to this Murderbot and its endearing yet cynical ways.

Network Effect is a thrilling and engaging full-length novel in the Murderbot saga that continues to explore one nonhuman’s very human experiences.




26 thoughts on “Network Effect by Martha Wells

  1. Awesome, real glad to see you enjoyed this one, as did I. I may one day tire of Murderbot, but thankfully that day isn’t today, and may it never arrive. I’ve been very happy with the novella length of the previous stories but I also found myself very much enjoying the story as a novel with that extra time and space to develop characters and plot. And I didn’t feel the time and space was wasted. Can’t wait to read Fugitive Telemetry (though I don’t have that one yet).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here. I don’t think this series could and should go on forever but, for the time being, the doses of Murderbot we’re getting were appropriately entertaining. I can see it getting redundant in the near future but we’ll hope for the best for this robot’s sake! Hope you get around to trying Fugitive Telemetry soon, especially once it’s released, my friend! Thanks for reading! 😀


  2. Excellent review, I am convinced I have to read this one. The question is whether, I have to work my way through all the novellas first? Never got further than the first one, but I’m keeping an eye on, whether the audiobooks come up on sale (no luck so far). It’s funny, that the reason we all love Murderbot so much is, it’s oh so human…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading! I would strongly recommend going through the novellas first, especially the second novella which contains the “old friend who returns” here. It’s quite misleading that they mention in the blurb that this is a stand-alone full-length story if you ask me. As for audiobook sales… Gosh, I hope those aren’t too rare. I’ve seen the prices of those audiobooks and they are quite insane! Maybe your library has them for you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad to see you enjoyed Network Effect! It was one of my favorite SFF titles from last year, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one. Annnd… Tor announced today that Wells signed a contract for another six books– three more Murderbot stories, and three new fantasy novels in a new world.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Delightful – and very heartfelt – love letter to Murderbot! 🙂
    You certainly nailed the comparison when you spoke of MB and ART as an old couple’s dynamic steeped in grumpiness that hides the deep reciprocal caring affection: I hope we will get more of it in the next installments…
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading, Maddalena! I do hope that ART can make another appearance in the near future. Such a deceptive yet awesome character hahah I did seem to hear that Fugitive Telemetry wasn’t really set after Network Effect though but I’ll soon find that out for myself! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well one more very positive review for that series! I swear you all will wear me out one day and I’ll give it a chance LOL Wonderful review as usual lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

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