Book Review – All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells

ALL SYSTEMS RED (The Murderbot Diaries)

Author : Martha Wells
Published By :
Year Published : 2017
Genre / Tags : Sci-Fi, Speculative Fiction, Novella
Formats : Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook
# of Pages : 144 pages (ebook)


In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.


I’ve read little to no sci-fi, so a lot of the jargon that’s present in this novella is new to me and a bit overwhelming. The terminology has good and appropriate context, making it easy to come to grips with after a little while.

Figured All Systems Red would be a fantastic starting point as its a fairly short novella that has received a deluge of positive reviews on Goodreads among other places, and the ebook is a mere 144 pages.

After finishing, I must say a lot was packed into these pages. There is an overarching story full of potential, the narrative voice is distinct and memorable, and the whole of it is just well-written. Some of the best plot points would be spoiler-y to explain so I’ll just say I really liked the sequence of events and there is so much room to grow for the sequel. There are now five books, the fifth set to release in 2020.

The final bit to mention and what left the best impact on me is the main character, Murderbot.

I’ve come across androids or other man-made creatures in fiction before. Usually the attempts to make them human have struck me as aiming for the obvious. Murderbot doesn’t cloyingly ingratiate themself to the reader or other humans in the narrative. Instead of saying “Hey, look at me! I’m a human just like you! See how helpful and useful and human-like I can be???” They’d rather be left alone to watch the futuristic equivalent of streaming TV. They’re an introvert who is skeptical of people- and as a result comes off more natural and more human than one might expect. They don’t wish for much interaction with humans- but DO enjoy watching fictional humans and immersing in fictional words. The irony and relatability of their cynicism is humorous to witness, well-reasoned, and something I can’t recall reading of before. In a roundabout way, this approach to characterization goes far in making this character complex and effective.

Overall Rating – 9/10

Why You Should Try It – Murderbot is a great and worthwhile leading character. A good mix of humor, action, and world-building in a small number of pages.

Why You Might Not Like It – A person who is not open to sci-fi or speculative fiction will probably not have their mind changed by this title. Murderbot’s character development far exceeds the other side characters so far.

ALL SYSTEMS RED (The Murderbot Diaries) (Amazon Link)

Thanks so much for reading my review! Have you read this book or any others in the Murderbot Diaries? Are you interested in reading it? I appreciate all of your thoughts.


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