“And besides, who doesn’t want to come to Artemis? It’s the greatest little city in the worlds.”
Author: Andy Weir
Category: Science Fiction
Publication Date: November 14th, 2017
Make sure to check out this week’s spoiler free podcast review!
Jazz Bashara is a 20-something that has lived on the moon in the only lunar settlement of Artemis since she was 6 years old. Being equal parts intelligent and rebellious, she finds her calling in smuggling goods into the small city. When she is hired not to smuggle but for some secretive sabotage, she finds herself in the middle of a plot bigger than she imagined in a play for political and economic power in Artemis.
It is hard to not compare this book to The Martian, Andy Weir’s amazing debut novel. The same hard science fiction aspects came into play in this book that made The Martian so good. However, Artemis has a little bit more of a complex plot. Mark Watney’s mission was simply “get off Mars.” Jazz’s problems have a lot more going on as the plot is a little bit more intricate.
Weir delivers just as well with the “science-y” aspect of this book as he did with The Martian. Where the first revolved largely on space travel and how to survive on a planet where nothing survives, Artemis focused more on welding and the chemistry of air. Also, a little bit of blowing stuff up. As none of these are areas that we know much about at all, it was interesting to learn a little bit in such an entertaining way. There is also some speculation for technological development in low gravity as opposed to earth gravity that was pretty fascination.
The biggest, and arguably the only, weakness for this book though is Jazz herself.
Honestly, she kind of reads like a male author writing a female character for a male audience. She is in some ways the cliche rough and tough smuggler/rebel chick that is just “one of the guys.” She throws back beer and liquor with her buddies and makes brazen sexual commentary. There’s nothing wrong with this as such but it lead to Jazz’s character not feeling very fleshed out. This is a very intelligent woman with a strong moral code but we are treated to commentary on how sexually promiscuous she is. Many of the things she said or ways that she acted or inner commentary she had just felt out of place.
With the first hundred pages being mostly story and character setup, this was more of an issue during that first part. Once the story and heist got going and the book became a little more plot-driven than about the characters though, it was easy to fall into the story and the science. The action got started and it really didn’t stop until the end.
During the first part of this book, I really worried that I was not going to enjoy it which would have been a huge disappointment because I was so looking forward to this. Thankfully though, I was able to get into the story and look past what I did not like about Jazz and enjoyed it a lot.
One of my favorite parts of this book was the “mayor” of Artemis, Fidelis Ngugi. She was a pretty minor character but I loved how she pretty much took Kenya from being a third world country to a political power with her incredible understanding of economics and people in general. I might read a book that was just about her and how she made Artemis possible.
I don’t think that Artemis better than The Martian but if you enjoyed the first, I think you will absolutely enjoy this one.
It is hard not to compare this book to The Martian. Mark Whatney and Jazz both have similar sarcastic tendencies and are both caught in a big situation and have to science their way out. The difference being, Jazz put herself where she was. While she does have redeeming qualities, Jazz is a difficult character to root for. She has people she cares about, and she never goes back on her word. But it seems she is always trying to play the system, and it can conflict with her upstanding values that she seems to develop.