**** Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells

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Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right?

Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah—its former owner (protector? friend?)—submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.

But who’s going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue?

And what will become of it when it’s caught? 

The novellas in this series really do keep getting better and better. This one is basically an extended hostage rescue sequence, in which Murderbot learns that Dr. Mensah has been taken captive by GrayCris, who believe her responsible for all of the trouble that Murderbot has caused for them in the previous book (oups!)

The action in this is basically non-stop, with fun previous characters showing up again, Murderbot using all of its skills learned in the previous books while also having an anxious breakdown over whether or not it actually wants to see Dr. Mensah again. This is the book in which our protagonist must really decide what it wants, and why. What it does know is that it doesn’t want to be human, and it doesn’t want to be a tool; but aside from that, it has no idea. This continuing inner conflict is a lot more entertaining to read than it sounds, mostly because Murderbot, despite being a machine/human construct, manages to developt a lot of anxieties and complexes that are purely human, and oh so relatable. As well as a wonderfully dry sarcastic sense of humour, which makes basically every sentence a joy to read.

Honestly, these novellas have a very similar type of narrator voice than The Martian, in that the main character doesn’t take itself too seriously, doesn’t steep it its own angst, and is just completely determined to do what it takes, even if it has to use non-conventionnal and occasionnaly stupid solutions to do so.

This fourth novella managed to keep a lot of this narrative levity and balance it with the seriousness of the situation in which Murderbot and Dr. Mensah find themselves. We finally get to go up against GrayCris as the formidable opponent they are, and nothing is safe, but I still read this book trusting that the author wouldn’t try to shock me with a bummer ending, which let me tell you is a hard trust to build for modern authors. (We, sadly, live in a time in which « shock » endings are a lot more comment than satisfying ones.)

In this one, I actually did not mind the lenght so much as I did the previous books, but I am still very excited to read the novel next. I love spending time in Murderbot’s head, and the lenght of a novella never seems enough.

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