Audiobook Adventures: Network Effect by Martha Wells & Narrated by Kevin R. Free

Warning: This post may contain spoilers for the previous Murderbot Diaries books.

I’ve finally got back to Murderbot! I was pretty excited for this audiobook, as you can probably tell. I admit, I also had quite high expectations too, having really enjoyed the audiobook versions of the novellas in the series. So, did Network Effect meet those expectations? Hell yes, it did!

Network Effect is the first full-length novel featuring everyone’s favourite sarcastic SecUnit android. It is set a little while after the last of the novellas, Exit Strategy. Long enough that Murderbot has had a chance to adjust to their new-found freedom in the Preservation Alliance – hell, they even have a ‘job’ – but not long enough that they are actually comfortable with it and having to make decisions on their own.

As the first full-length novel in the series, Network Effect got the chance to explore the universe and the setting a lot more than the previous novels and this world-building was one of my favourite parts of the book. I certainly feel like I know the universe that Murderbot and all his ‘associates’ (they would never say friends!) live in far better now. Specifically, it really seemed to highlight vast differences in outlook between the Corporation Rim and Preservation Alliance, and how this affects the politics and diplomacy between them.

Away from the world-building, Network Effect is full of the same humour, sarcasm and wit that gave the rest of the series its tone and charm. Murderbot, despite being a literal killing machine, is an incredibly relatable character. They have almost no filter, but quite a sharp wit, so come out with just fantastic lines that are exactly what a human would probably be thinking but wouldn’t dare to say – it is hilarious!

With an audiobook, these lines need to be delivered properly to be successful, and Kevin R. Free absolutely nails his delivery of this whole book. I’ve said it before, but the slightly flat and dry tone with which he narrates these books might not work for all books, but it works perfectly for Murderbot as a character.

Overall, I really enjoyed this audiobook and the story here. It is a fantastic addition to the Murderbot Diaries series and I look forward to the second novel coming out next year: Fugitive Telemetry.


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