Monday, August 7, 2023

Book Review: All Systems Red by Martha Wells


Not a very sympathetic protagonist: A human who does the least possible work in order to maximize their TV viewing time is pretty annoying. It helped a little that she is a bot, because then it is a novelty really, but it still interfered with me wanting to cheer for her.  What I did find sympathetic is how ashamed she seemed to be about her identity and her past. Again this was unexpected for a robot which is probably what makes these books such a big deal right now.

Another complaint: when she does find a group of people who don't have a negative bias toward her, there's no explanation for why they are different from everyone else in their culture. How much stronger would it have been if the protagonist could have converted them onto her side? 

Finally, [spoiler alert], I was dissatisfied with the ending. It seems to be setting up to have an interesting sequel rather than providing a satisfying conclusion. I haven't analyzed the text to see how much it fits with the Heroine's journey, but another guess is that the author didn't recognize how a strong ending could be that the protagonist stays with her found family, and instead pushed her to become the independent, solitary hero that we are so often told is the only option.

As for what I liked, the overall point is that I managed to finish the book so these days that's a strong positive. As small craft positive was that the injury the protagonist suffers at the beginning was a great device for describing her physicality. 

No comments: