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Niki’s Narrative Novella Review: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

Omg – the alliteration was unintentional (but the best thing I’ve done all week). This post is about my reading experience with Murderbot Diaries and why it’s now one of my favorite mini-series.

Niki’s Narrative Novella Review (Spoiler-Free)
The Murderbot Diaries

By Martha Wells
[5/5 stars]

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

All Systems Red: All Systems Red seemed to have everything I’d been hounding for in a good sci-fi – an interesting character, a compelling mystery, exploration, and some cool technology shit. Five pages into this novella and I was able to check off all the things. Hell, one sentence into this book and I knew we were going to get along (Wells is so good at opening lines. I haven’t even read The Wizard Hunters yet, but for years now I’ve been using it as a positive example of how to hook a reader). Murderbot was just so goddamned funny that I constantly felt on the verge of uncontrollable giggles the entire time. It spoke to my very introverted self like we’d been besties for years (ironically), but also spurred a level of compassion from me I haven’t given to a book in a long while. I came away from this first novella feeling like I’d just read a gem.


Artificial Condition: My feelings going into AC were tentative optimism. After all, sequels are never as good as the first, right? So if this could hold up to even 75% on how much I enjoyed All Systems Red, then I’d be good. The first few chapters were slowly paced and I really enjoyed reimmursing into Murderbot’s brain. Wells even had me laughing early on with MB’s interaction with a new character. And then the plot thickened and we were on our way to answering some questions. I lost myself for a few hours as the story snowballed to the end with a fantastic momentum that perhaps was even more of a ride than the first book. At this point, I went “omg, give me the next one,” and proceeded to troll the publisher and review sites until I lucked into a copy (okay, I didn’t really troll, but I was still exceptionally lucky).


[August 7, 2018] Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells

Rogue Protocol: I braced myself for this book. My trust in this author and this series was so strong by this point that I just hopped in and buckled up without even asking where we were going. And I was treated to possibly my favorite of the bunch (it’s like combing fine hairs). With all the key components right up front, some amazing Murderbot feels that kind of rocked some of my perspectives on life (that’s deep), and crazy whirlwind action that almost gave me whiplash, it rocked. If I wasn’t convinced from how much I loved the first two books, I was definitely a huge, unapologetically screaming fangirl by this point. Holy smoley that was good.


[October 2, 2018] Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

Exit Strategy: I entered into this final installment a little worried. For the character, for my emotions, for that heightened expectations that comes from reaching the end of something truly fantastic and hoping the quality holds up. I was not disappointed. Exit Strategy had the perfect balance of all the amazing elements that make this series so special. Did I shed a tear at some point during this book? I can’t remember. It might have been a combination of laughing and crying, or just something in my eye. Either way, I have strong opinions about how much I’d love to see this world expanded on more. I still have a few questions, but more importantly I’d miss Murderbot too much. In an interview I read, Wells mentioned that this is the end of the story arc, but she’s already thinking about what to do with it next (yay!).

So if you need me, I’ll be in my cubicle recharging from this series and trying not to get snot on my phone. I really hate it when I leak.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Novella Review: Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Legion: Skin Deep

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: Legion #2

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5 stars!

The Overview: Stephen Leeds, AKA “Legion,” is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the new story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are hired by I3 (Innovative Information Incorporated) to recover a corpse stolen from the local morgue. But there’s a catch. The corpse is that of a pioneer in the field of experimental biotechnology, a man whose work concerned the use of the human body as a massive storage device. He may have embedded something in the cells of his now dead body. And that something might be dangerous… What follows is a visionary thriller about the potential uses of technology, the mysteries of the human personality, and the ancient human need to believe that death is not the end. Legion: Skin Deep is speculative fiction at it most highly developed. It reaffirms Sanderson’s place as one of contemporary fiction’s most intelligent—and unpredictable—voices. -Goodreads

The Review:

Both Legion novellas were absolutely delightful. The concept was unique (a brilliant man whose “not crazy”, but harbors several human aspects who help him store information and solve crimes), the mysteries were interesting, and the writing was superb – yup! It’s definitely a Sanderson. What I especially loved about Skin Deep was the humor – I laughed so much through the first half I went back and read it again – you can tell Sanderson had a lot of fun writing it. The resolution to the mystery may have been wrapped up a little too conveniently for my tastes, but I still liked it. Overall, if you’re in the mood for something different – or if you’re mega Sanderson fan (like me <3) who hasn’t yet read it – Legion is the perfect pick!

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Novella Review: Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson

perfect-state-by-brandon-sandersonTitle: Perfect State

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: N/A

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars!

The Overview: God-Emperor Kairominas is lord of all he surveys. He has defeated all foes, has united the entire world beneath his rule, and has mastered the arcane arts. He spends his time sparring with his nemesis, who keeps trying to invade Kai’s world. Except for today. Today, Kai has to go on a date. Forces have conspired to require him to meet with his equal—a woman from another world who has achieved just as much as he has. What happens when the most important man in the world is forced to have dinner with the most important woman in the world? -Goodreads

The Review:

With a 3 star (I liked it but I didn’t love it) rating, Perfect State claims the spot as my least favorite Sanderson to date. In the whole scheme of books on the market, it was still a good read, I just happen to like all of Sanderson’s other works a bit better. What I liked most about the novella was that it made you think. It was very cleverly conceptualized and crafted (the concept for Perfect State – a permanent virtual reality experiment – was nifty). I even liked the characters, but unfortunately didn’t find the main one relatable. At all. Which is probably what kept me at arms-distance throughout the whole story. Overall, I’m glad I read it and will definitely recommend it, but only to those who have already read some of my favorite Sanderson works.

Normally, this is where I’d recommend comparable titles by other authors, but Perfect State only reminded me of a conceptual hodgepodge of Sanderson’s other works, specifically these ones:

by Niki Hawkes

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Novella Review: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson

shadows-for-silenceTitle: Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: The Cosmere

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: When the familiar and seemingly safe turns lethal, therein danger lies. Amid a forest where the shades of the dead linger all around, every homesteader knows to follow the Simple Rules: “Don’t kindle flame, don’t shed the blood of another, don’t run at night. These things draw shades.” Silence Montane has broken all three rules on more than one occasion. And to protect her family from a murderous gang with high bounties on their heads, Silence will break every rule again, at the risk of becoming a shade herself. -Goodreads 

The Review:

If you only read one novella from Brandon Sanderson, Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell would be my top pick (by a smidgen – they’re all awesome. And really, why would you limit yourself to just one?). It’s just one more example why Sanderson is one of my favorite authors – his novellas are every bit as good as his full-length novels. I loved this one because it had the perfect mix of characterization, setting, story, pacing, action, and resolution. It felt like a snippet out of a fully developed novel, but was self-contained enough to stand complete on its own. Silence, the main character, really struck a chord with me – her decision-making during the most intense scenes of the story still have me reeling months later. I want to get into the nitty-gritty details and geek out about all of them, but I can’t discuss it to my satisfaction without spoilers. So just take my word for it – this is definitely worth reading! :-)

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Novella Review: Legion by Brandon Sanderson

legionTitle: Legion

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Series: Legion #1

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: Stephen Leeds, AKA ‘Legion,’ is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his ‘aspects’ are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society.

The Review:

I picked this novella up on a whim. Now, I expected it to be good because it’s a Sanderson, but holy crap! It was awesome. You get strength of character right out of the gate and total immersion into this guy’s life. Then Sanderson proceeds to hit you over the head with one cool idea after another. There were five or six concepts in this novella that I absolutely loved – any two of which would’ve made for an interesting story. I don’t want to get into specifics for fear of spoilers, but suffice to say I completely devoured this story and am still reeling from it several days later. It’s a dang good thing Skin Deep (Legion #2) is out, because I feel like Legion sparked a new craving that hasn’t yet been satisfied. If you’ve read (and liked) Steelheart, you’ll definitely like this one.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: The Queen by Kiera Cass

PrintTitle: The Queen

Author: Kiera Cass

Series: The Selection Novella

Genre: Teen Dystopian (sort of)

Release Date: December 2, 2014

The Overview: Before America Singer’s story began, another girl came to the palace to compete for the hand of a different prince…. This prequel story takes place before the events of The Selection and is told from the point of view of Prince Maxon’s mother, Amberly. Discover a whole new Selection with this inside look at how Maxon’s parents met—and how an ordinary girl named Amberly became a beloved queen.

the queen

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

I am on a Selection craze and have been since I picked up the first book over a year ago. As I’m currently savoring The One (the final book in the trilogy) I find myself incredibly sad that the story is coming to an end. This makes me even more excited to check out The Queen when it comes out in December – I simply cannot get enough of this series. Aside from my obsession, I find Amberly’s selection journey to be just as curious as America’s and look forward to finding out more about her. She’s easily  one of my favorite characters!

What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes