Artemis – Andy Weir

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of Jazz’s problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself – and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even more unlikely than the first.

First off, let me just say that I loved the Martian. I loved the premise, the setting, the character of Mark Watney and his internal monologue as he figured his way through life on Mars. Even the movie was pretty good.

So it was with no small measure of excitement that I opened a parcel to find Andy Weir’s second book, Artemis. The TBR pile was pushed unceremoniously to one side and I sat down to read it.

Alas, I was disappointed. My first problem was with Jazz herself – she comes across as a bouncy enthusiastic teen, which would be absolutely fine, but it turned out she’s supposed to be in her mid-twenties. I did like a lot of the other characters, and found them at times to be better written and more… plausible? Particularly fond of Svoboda, Jazz’s excitable engineer friend. Jazz was a bit too much of a Mary Sue for me – very very competent, and nothing much seemed to get in her way – some quite dicey situations cropped up but were too swiftly resolved with no real sense of peril.

Some of the science seemed a bit shonky too, which *really* surprised me. Unless my understanding of lighting fires around pure oxygen is off (don’t do it kids, things go BADABOOM), bits of the story made me scratch my head.

[Edit] having spoken to some people about this (thanks @SafeNotAnOption), my grumbles about the sciencey bit may have been unfounded and my understanding of fires in low-pressure O2 environments isn’t what I thought it was. My apologies.

I now return you to the review…

There’s also some weirdness and inconsistency with how things react in the lunar gravity, and a scene involving a free beer which turns out not to be… Minor niggles, but they jarred for me.

The plot itself is a bit on the cheese grater side[1], but given that a lot of heist movies fall into the same trap I was prepared to forgive it. And the story did grow on me – whilst the first half of the book did feel a bit sluggish and exposition-heavy at times, I rattled through the second half and found myself quite enjoying it towards the end.

There’s a cracking story in there somewhere, it just feels a bit… muddled in places. A friend commented that he suspected that Mark Watney in The Martian *was* Andy Weir – figuring out the problems in his head as the character had more misfortune lumped on him, and I agree. In The Martian, the style really worked, but here there’s a bit too much info-dumping as the author tries to set up the next thing.

Artemis will shift by the bucketload, given its provenance. It’s got Hollywood written all over it too, and I reckon it’ll make for a fantastic movie, given the right casting.

Artemis by Andy Weir is published by Del Rey and is out on 14th November.

Many thanks to Emma and Del Rey for the gorgeous advance copy for review. It really is stunning!

[1] full of holes. OH COME ON.  🙂

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

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