I picked up All Systems Red, book 1 of the Murderbot Diaries, because I had a $10 credit, and that covered all but about 75 cents or thereabouts, so I didn’t really hesitate. While the story was good, I think the narration really let this one down. Normally, I tick the playback to anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 for an audiobook to get to the pace I am comfortable with. For this, I had to go to 1.7, and it still seemed a little slow.
Given the book is only 3 hours and 17 minutes, at close to double speed, this really started to feel like it wasn’t value for money.
Fortunately, the story itself felt like classic science fiction. In an Alien-like future where corporations rule the stars, we find ourselves following the thoughts and actions of “Murderbot”, the security droid assigned to guarding the team exploring the planet.
Murerbot is self-aware and has hacked his governer unit – the vital piece of hardware meant to stop him from killing everyone and doing his own thing – so he doesn’t have to follow orders if he doesn’t want to. Fortunately for the humans, he doesn’t want to go all Bender and “kill all humans”. He simply wants to be free to watch soap operas and garbage television.
Strange things are afoot on the planet. Missing maps and missing teams signal the start of something nefarious going on.
Narration by Kevin R Free, as stated, seemed deliberately too slow, as if to make this book an acceptable novella length. His delivery also seemed a bit… stilted? I think a different narrator could have knocked this out of the park.
Will I continue? Maybe. There are five other books in the series from what I can see on Amazon. All of them are about the same length. I think if someone came along and did all six with a new narrator in a single edition, this could be killer. As it stands, I’m thinking more about leaving this as a one-shot. It ends well enough that it can be left like this.
The overall value for money seems to be lacking, though, especially since all the next ones are around the same length with the same narrator, I’d find them a little too pricey for what you get.