Book Review: All Systems Red by Martha Wells

All Systems Red

All Systems Red

Title: All Systems Red 
Author: Martha Wells
Series: The Murderbot Diaries #1

Genre: Science Fiction
Date of Publication: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Tor


Set in a distant future, a team of scientists are sent to a planet to conduct surface tests,  and they are required to bring along a Company-issued droid. They’re utterly unaware that this droid has hacked its AI, effectively enabling it to do whatever it wants. “Whatever it wants” means that it spends its free time watching cheesy soap operas.  The droid refers to itself as the Murderbot–though it would never say that to the humans it was sent to protect. When danger is afoot, the Murderbot feels compelled to continue to protect the scientists no matter the cost.


I don’t usually read hard science fiction, but one of the categories for the PopSugar Reading Challenge is “A book set in space”, so I was thrust into this category, whether I wanted to explore it or not. I decided to read this book because it’s short–only a novella, it had an interesting premise, and very positive reviews on Goodreads. Boy am I glad I picked this book. 

At only 89 pages, this book packs a lot of action and adventure between its covers. The plot never lags, and Wells does a fabulous job of balancing all four appeal elements, which, of course, is likely why this book has appealed to so many readers. The plot is engaging and fun, and Wells resolves the plotline while hinting at the possibilities of what’s to come with the followup books in this series. Books which I’ll be definitely checking out.  Hard science fiction books, here I come!


The Murderbot is a dynamic and relatable character, despite not even being a human being. It’s funny and socially awkward, which is something that many bookworms such as myself can relate to.  It has a heart, which becomes evident as the story progresses.

Given that this is a novella and the focus is clearly on the Murderbot, I haven’t marked Martha Wells down for not developing the other characters quite to my liking. That said, each of the teammates had a unique personality so that I didn’t have a difficult time telling them apart. They each had their own way of viewing and dealing with the Murderbot, which coloured its perception of these characters in interesting ways. 

Setting & Language

Set in a science fiction world, Martha Wells does a fabulous job of making it easy for me to follow, which is no easy feat considering I rarely read in this genre. All the science fiction-y words were understandable within context. She doesn’t spend reams of pages describing how the world works, but reveals things as they are needed to be known by the reader. If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you would know that this is something that I value in a book.  Books with info-dumps automatically receive fewer stars, even if the rest of the book is up to my standards of reading. 

All Systems Red

This is a perfect gateway book into the hard science fiction genre. It contains all four appeal elements, so even if you aren’t interested in reading science fiction, you should give this one a shot, because it might just surprise you.


Find the book:

Goodreads | Amazon

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