Martha Wells’ Network Effect is the first Murderbot novel (after four novellas), and it is pretty much exactly what I wanted it to be.
Basically, you’ve got Murderbot, one of the best first-person narrators in recent years (really, rivaled only by Gideon). You’ve got returning characters from the novellas, including my personal favorite. You’ve got the meditations on identity and humanity and friendship and purpose that are kind of the running theme of the series. And you’ve got a very solid plot full of mysteries to be solved and action to be had.
Really, the only difference between this novel and any of the novellas is that it’s more. The character interactions get a chance to be deeper; the plot is substantially more complex; there’s just more room for everything to breathe. There are writers out there who, in making the jump from novella to novel, might end up losing the tautness of their work as a bit of flab sets in, but Wells isn’t one of them.
To my tastes, this is the best Murderbot work yet. The whole series is strongly recommended.