Review: EXIT STRATEGY by Martha Wells

Publisher: Tor.com
Page Count: 176
Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Series: THE MURDERBOT DIARIES, Book 4
Rating: 5/5 Stars – Loved it!

35519109We all know that finales are scary.  Not just because they bring about the end to a beloved property, but because for some reason they seem so very easy to screw up. I am happy to report that author Martha Wells has done an exceptional job in EXIT STRATEGY, the thrilling novella that brings THE MURDERBOT DIARIES to a well-earned conclusion.

Light spoilers for the first three books ahead!

Dr. Mensah is one of the very few humans in the galaxy who knows the truth about Murderbot.  Somehow the idea of a rogue SecUnit didn’t send her running and screaming, but made her try and help Murderbot to freedom by offering it a guardianship under her protection.  Murderbot, not wanting to be a “pet” robot, even to a well-meaning human, went on the run instead.  But Murderbot couldn’t escape the news of the escalating legal battle between Dr. Mensah and GreyCris over the incident where GreyCris tried to kill Mensah and her team to protect their hold on illegal alien material. Having successfully escaped the terraforming platform at Milu, incriminating files against GreyCris in tow, Murderbot now needs a way to hand them over to Dr. Mensah.  There’s just one problem: Dr. Mensah is missing. Piecing together recent news items, Murderbot is pretty sure that GreyCris has kidnapped Dr. Mensah to force her team to capitulate in the legal battle.  Which means that the humans, unsurprisingly, have done something very stupid – because Murderbot will do whatever it takes to see Dr. Mensah to safety.

One of the best things about THE MURDERBOT DIARIES as a whole is that you can really tell that the author planned out an arc that would happen over the course of the four novellas.  EXIT STRATEGY isn’t a flailing attempt to bring story threads together, it is a calculated landing point, delivered with all with wit and sarcasm Murderbot can muster.  Although the last few books had plots that felt a little disposable (but were still highly entertaining), they were all in service of character development that gets Murderbot to where it needs to be in this final installment. Murderbot still doesn’t have a full grasp of what it wants in life, but it’s now open to accepting that maybe it doesn’t have to exist in complete isolation. Even as bullets are flying, Murderbot is coming to some realizations about itself (the wonders of AI multi-tasking) and the last few pages were absolutely wonderful.

EXIT STRATEGY is more than a character piece, it is an action-packed finale.  Everything is on the line here: the lives of the few people who at least try to understand Murderbot are in danger of being killed, and if Murderbot is capture, it risks dismemberment or deletion. Wells keeps the plot moving at a good pace, with plenty of Murderbot commentary on the side.  I particularly loved the final set piece in the hanger, which requires Murderbot to bring all of the tricks it’s learned in the last few books to bear.

EXIT STRATEGY is a perfect ending for a character that has become near and dear to my heart.  It delivers on every level and gives Murderbot’s character development a nice ending, even while still acknowledging there is room to grow.  Which is fantastic because this is not the last we shall see of Murderbot!  Last July, Tor.com announced that author Martha Wells was penning the first full length novel for our favorite introverted AI.  No release date has yet been announced, but you can bet I will be incredibly eager to get my hands on the book when it is!

 

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