the Little Red Reviewer

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

Posted on: April 28, 2019

Exit Strategy (Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells

published in 2018

where i got it: purchased new




Murderbot is good at a lot of things.  Murderbot is especially good at having an exit strategy. Knowing where the doors and hallways are, and knowing where those hallways lead. Being able to hack software so as to disappear.  Knowing how to get out of conversations (usually by walking away). Knowing how to get away from people.


Exit strategies are helpful when social situations, or any situation involving people, aren’t your strong suit. Is always having an exit strategy just a coping mechanism for Murderbot?   We all use coping mechanisms to avoid dealing with things that we don’t have the toolkit to deal with or simply don’t want to deal with.


Let’s get some  plot bits out of the way first – Murderbot finds out that Mensah is in trouble, and Murderbot has evidence that can prove that Mensah is innocent. But, how to get the evidence to Mensah’s people?  And what if GrayCris doesn’t care about if Mensah is innocent? What if she’s just the bait, and what they really want is one specific rogue Sec Unit? Finding Mensah and her people is no problem, but now comes the hard part:  Can Murderbot trust them? Do they even want to see Murderbot again? What about Mensah, what’s Murderbot going to say to her when they inevitably meet again? Mensah offered Murderbot a home, and Murderbot ran away from her. Where does their relationship even stand now?


Murderbot needs to decide who is worth trusting, and who is worth protecting, and exactly how much is worth risking to trust and/or protect. When you’re not considered a person, when you’re considered property,  what is trust worth to you? In the end, what does trust, what does “a relationship”, what does “having a friend”, get you, if you’re not a person who has rights or the ability to exist in a way of your own choosing?


When I first started reading Exit Strategy, I thought the plot was thin and weak. I felt like I wasn’t connecting with this book as much as I had with earlier entries, and that annoyed me. Call it user-error.  More on that later, I promise.


Murderbot likes to observe people, is curious about people things, and maybe sometimes appreciates people things. But Murderbot doesn’t want people things.  I relate to this, because I feel the same way about tattoos. I am fascinated by them, I love seeing and complimenting people’s art, I enjoy hearing people’s stories about why that their tattoos mean to them, I once went through a short obsession with Russian Prison tattoo art (yes, this is a thing. No, you can’t ask).  But I have zero interest in ever getting a tattoo. I’m fascinated by them and I appreciate them, but I don’t want it for myself.

Exit Strategy is Murderbot coming to terms with what it wants, what it doesn’t want, and who it wants in it’s life.  Murderbot is also coming to terms with things it will never have. In a way, isn’t this every human’s journey?  We go through life thinking we know exactly what we want and what we need in our lives to be happy, and that we know exactly how to get it, and that if we just get those specific things, we’ll be happy. And  of course life never works out that way, and eventually you have to decide if you’re okay with that or not. Sometimes the things that make you happiest are completely not what you expected, and it takes a while for your brain to figure that out.  And that’s okay.


Mensah thinks she can give Murderbot the things that will make it happy. She innocently thinks to herself “human things make me happy. Murderbot looks sort of like a human, I will offer Murderbot human things and that will make it happy”, and Murderbot is more like “nope don’t want human things”, and Mensah still wants to help Murderbot be happy, even though for most of this series, she didn’t know how.


In a way, Murderbot is like every introvert who ever had to deal with this conversation with an extrovert:


Extrovert: I just don’t understand why you don’t like parties. Everyone likes parties!

Introvert: I just don’t, ok?

Extrovert: but why?

Introvert: i don’t know. I just don’t. Can we change the subject?

Extrovert: yeah, but why? Everyone likes parties!



Yes, Murderbot is programmed to help humans, to keep them from hurting themselves, to stop them from doing stupid and dangerous things. But in Exit Strategy, Murderbot doesn’t have to do anything Doesn’t have to help Mensah. Murderbot can walk away at any moment.  Murderbot chooses to help Mensah, more than once.  And Mensah chooses to help Murderbot. Two people, who helped each other, protected each other, supported each other even when they truly didn’t understand the other person, but knew they wanted to be near that other person, to make sure that other person was okay.


If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.


Remember how I said that at first, i thought the plot of Exit Strategy was thin and weak?  It just took me a while to process what was going on, and now that I have, I feel the opposite.  This may be one of the strongest entries in the series (sorry, book #2 will ALWAYS be my favorite).


Side note:  i want to refer to children as “small humans” from now on


Side note #2:  I wonder if extroverts reacted differently to this book than introverts did? In that line of thinking, I wonder if introverts experience reading in a completely different manner than extroverts?

5 Responses to "Exit Strategy by Martha Wells"

Unfortunately, I hardly have time to read books. The last “book” I read was a travel guide. I know it’s a difficult question, but what’s your favourite book?


travel guides and travel books can be really fun to read!

oh goodness, my favorite book? that is a hard question! I really love The Scar by China Mieville. I loved The Machineries of Empire series by Yoon Ha Lee.


In response to Sidenote #1 – change approved!! All children shall now be known as small humans. 😀
In response to Sidenote #2 – THAT is a fascinating thought – do introverts and extroverts experience reading differently … I want to find out the answer to that.
I really need to get on the Murderbot books … darn it.


the first Murderbot book is super short, it feels like zero commitment!

Liked by 1 person

I’ve been lent it by my other brother … and *ahem* STILL not read it yet … *shakes head in despair at self* 😀


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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