Author: Andy Weir
Original Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Review Date: 12/26/2017
Who I would recommend this book to:
Anyone who likes action-packed, fast paced thrillers, science fiction or otherwise.
Who I would not recommend this book to:
Anyone who doesn’t appreciate (sometimes) crass language or humor.
Artemis is Andy Weir’s (author of The Martian) new book about Jasmine Bashara who grew up in the first moon colony, Artemis. We get snippets of Jasmine’s (or Jazz’s) backstory either through dialogue or through the communication between her and her pen pal who lives on Earth. Jazz starts out the book as a smuggler, smuggling contraband goods from Earth to the wealthier citizens of Artemis. She quickly gets pulled into a much bigger scheme of serious vandalism in order to make enough money to live comfortably and pay back her debts. The deal goes south when two people are murdered and Jazz is forced to go on the run, something that is difficult to do in a colony that only has about 2,000 people. There is plenty of government conspiracy and dirty politics as the book heads toward it’s climax in which Jazz and several of her friends put themselves in life or death situations.
I was excited to get into my copy of Artemis because I loved The Martian, and I had heard from others and read in reviews that Artemis had a similar kind of sarcastic narration. Along with having a facetious comment about most things, Jazz and her scientist friend, Svoboda, get into the specifics of the science and really explain the chemistry in the book. I have to be honest and say that when it got really science heavy, I ended up skimming a few paragraphs. I took chemistry in high school, and that was the last time I really thought about how chemicals interact, so most of the science went completely over my head. To me, the science all seemed logical, and I just took it on faith that Weir had done his research and gotten it right.
I was a little wary of reading a book in the first person with a female protagonist written by a male author. I know I have personally struggled with writing complex male characters, and I have read books, some that are considered “classics”, in which I feel the female characters fall very far short of a believable, round woman. Overall, I thought Weir did a good job of writing Jazz. She is not a “girly girl” and I like that about her. She is extremely intelligent and very independent, to the point of stupidity at times. She also has a very strong moral compass. She might not have your typical ideals of right and wrong, but she sticks to what she believes, always. She is also far from perfect. She has her flaws; she is aware of some, and others she denies. When the book starts getting into the conspiracy, it becomes a bit more plot driven (as opposed to character driven), but even so, Jazz felt like a well-rounded, dynamic character.
The one element of the story that I did not care for was the romance between Jazz and one of the many male characters. I don’t dislike the pairing at all, but it felt overly obvious from the beginning that these two characters were going to end up together, and it was just too predictable for me. It lacked a certain subtlety that I think is what really makes readers root for a couple. However, it was not a big plot point, more just an irritation of mine.
Overall, I rated Artemis five out of five stars because it kept me hooked from the very first chapter. It is not a book that I’m ever going to choose to analyze in my literature classes, but that is not the purpose of this book. It is exciting and gripping, and it makes you want to keep reading, and I don’t know what else I could ask of it.
- S.R. Ahuja