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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of System Collapse (Murderbot #7) by Martha Wells

System Collapse provides more of SecUnit's emotional coping with PTSD than action, and I missed the faster pacing of other books, but I love being in SecUnit's world again.

Am I making it worse? I think I'm making it worse.

In System Collapse, we catch up with the delightfully grumpy Murderbot (SecUnit), who in this seventh book in the series is faced with attempting to rescue, along with a team of humans, the inhabitants of a newly colonized planet. These colonists are in danger from an unethical corporation that's out to take advantage of and force labor from them.

At the end of the last book, Fugitive Telemetry, SecUnit almost died. This story picks up immediately after those events, alluding to various ongoing emotional impacts and SecUnit system glitches that are linked to that trauma, which feels like Murderbot PTSD.

Because of all of this, SecUnit isn't working as it should, despite ART's best attempts at repairing it and the Preservation Station human allies' work at trying to figure out the problem. (I didn't feel as connected to the human team here as in other Murderbot books--and I always miss Mensah when she is not present.)

I love being back in the middle of the deep, irritation-filled, intensely loyal SecUnit and ART friendship and a Wells Murderbot story. I haven't read a Murderbot book in two and a half years, but the slow build here made it difficult for me to dive in, and the extended parenthetical sections (a structure familiar from other books) felt like they were bogging down the story. Frequent "redacted" notes and abruptly ended thoughts added to my inability to feel like I had a handle on and investment in the story.

I loved the concept of SecUnit's exploring emotions (Murderbot emotions!) and trying to come to terms with its near-death experience, yet the page time spent on insecurity, fear, and facing past trauma is one reason the pacing of System Collapse felt quite slow to me until the final sections.

The end section of the story involves fast-paced reactions and conflicts, with SecUnit doing its thing--revising plans, providing limitless human protection, and taking unorthodox approaches--to wonderful effect.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

You can click here to find my Bossy reviews of Murderbot books 1 through 3, book 4, Exit Strategy, book 5, Network Effect, as well as book 6, Fugitive Telemetry.

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