Sunday, April 25, 2021

Rogue Protocol

Martha Wells
Completed 4/25/2021, Reviewed 4/25/2021
4 stars

This is the third novella in the Murderbot Diaries series.  This book was not quite as good as the previous one, Artificial Condition.  It seemed like it was a bit of a retread of the last one.  What stood out though was Miki, another bot, who is a bit naïve and calls humans friends.  It adds something new to a plot that we’ve come to expect in this series.  Still, I really liked it, finding it fast and engrossing, despite feeling like I’ve been through it before.

In this book, Murderbot decides to go to a planet that failed to be Terraformed by the big corporation that was involved with its horrific past.  So once again, it must find a way onto a ship to get it there. This time, it hides on the ship trying not be discovered.  On the ship, it meets Miki, a petbot as Murderbot calls it.  Murderbot is able to befriend it and convince it that it’s been put on the ship as additional security but no one must know it’s aboard.  That plan falls apart when the ship arrives and the people and enhanced humans investigating the planet are attacked by military bots and Murderbot kicks into rescue mode.  Now they all must try to survive and find a way off this apparently booby-trapped planet.

While Murderbot is still interesting and still surprising itself with its drive to save humans that aren’t its clients, Miki steals the show.  As mentioned above, it’s naïve and loyal to the humans it works with.  It’s like a pet that’s never been abused or a child that’s never been taught to be wary of strangers.  Everyone is a potential friend, and Murderbot convinces Miki to be its friend.  But through this friendship, Miki’s character develops in surprising ways.  All the human characters in this book are just secondary to Miki and his relationship with Murderbot.

What I didn’t like about the book is that it felt a little formulaic after the previous book.  The details were different, but the basic premise is the same.  Fortunately, it’s the details that keep the book very readable, fast-paced, and engrossing.

Despite my complaint, I give the book four stars out of five.  If I awarded half stars, I’d give it 3.5 because it’s a little less than the last, but better than the first.  But I’m really enjoying this series.  I like the characterization, particularly of Miki, the dense, technical prose, and the action.  I’m going to read book four after another book, just to have a bit of a break.

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