I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Artemis by Andy Weir
Published by Crown Publishing Group on November 14 2017
Genres: Adult, Science fiction
Buy on Amazon
The nitty-gritty: Another winner for Andy Weir, full of his trademark irreverent humor, non-stop action, and fascinating science.
Like many other readers, I was a little scared to read Weir’s follow up to The Martian, which earned five enthusiastic stars from me a few years ago. By now you’ve probably read a bunch of reviews of Artemis, so I don’t want to rehash too much, but I will tell you I enjoyed the hell out of this book! Weir’s biggest strengths are his meticulous research skills and his ability to turn some very complicated science into a page-turner of a story, and his snarky humor that had me laughing out loud just about every time Jazz opened her mouth.
Once again, Weir tackles outer space, but this time he sets his story on the moon. Artemis is a thriving city of several thousand, made up of five “bubbles” that are connected by tunnels so that people can get from one to another without worrying about the dangerous atmosphere. Each bubble houses a different group of people, for example, Aldrin Bubble is where rich people from Earth stay when they come to the moon for a vacation, and Conrad Bubble is where the working class folk hang out. The main character is a twenty-six year old named Jazz Bashara, a mouthy girl who has been living on the moon since she was six years old. Jazz’s official job is as a porter, picking up packages and delivering them to people in Artemis, but her unofficial job is smuggling, and of course, that’s where the real money comes from.
But even with her smuggling operation, Jazz struggles just to pay the rent, surviving mostly on a processed foodstuff called Gunk. When a business mogul named Trond Landvik offers a huge payday to Jazz if she’ll help him destroy some critical machinery belonging to a business rival, Jazz only hesitates for a moment. After all, with Jazz on the job, what could possibly go wrong?
Fair warning, Jazz will not be to everyone’s tastes. She’s brash and immature and her sense of humor reminded me a lot of Mark Watney. She’s also ridiculously smart (maybe too smart, because at times I had a hard time believing she really knew so much). But you have to give her credit for taking a bad situation and turning things to her advantage. She’s nearly homeless, living in what she calls a “coffin,” and yet she manages to find ways to keep herself afloat, even if they aren’t necessarily legal. And wow, can she think on a dime! You’ll definitely need to suspend your disbelief from time to time, as she miraculously extricates herself from one bad situation after the next, but it was all so much fun that I happily went along for the ride.
Jazz’s over-the-top personality is balanced out by a varied cast of characters. There’s Jazz’s ex-boyfriend Dale, who cheated on her with another man but still wants to be friends with her (and Jazz wants nothing to do with him); Trond, the scheming businessman who wants to take over the business that supplies all of Artemis’ oxygen; Jazz’s father, who she’s had a falling out with (many years ago, but the pain is still fresh); and Jazz’s childhood pen pal Kelvin, a man who lives in Africa on Earth and is the reason she’s become a successful smuggler in the first place. I loved the emails between Jazz and Kelvin that are scattered throughout the story, which start when the two are only nine years old and continue into the present. I so badly want Jazz and Kelvin to meet in person one day!
I have to give a shout-out to the relationship between Jazz and her father, which added a nice sentimental touch. There is a moment near the end of the story where Jazz is able to make amends to some extent, and it was a lovely moment in a story that is mostly steered by action.
While The Martian had three different viewpoints—Mark Watney on Mars, the NASA scientists back home who are trying to figure out how to save him, and the crew of his erstwhile spaceship, the Hermes—Artemis was quite different in that we only get to hear one voice for the entire story, that of Jazz. But I think it worked well. The physical scope of Artemis is much smaller, involving only one small area on the moon, especially since all of Jazz’s friends and business associates are right in the same city.
And it wouldn’t be an Andy Weir story without plenty of cool science. The moon’s atmosphere acts much like Mars did in The Martian, creating a uniquely dangerous place to live where following the rules is often a life or death situation. Weir goes into lots of detail about the mechanics of EVA suits, how they work, and why for god’s sake you don’t want to puncture one, as well as a host of other fascinating space-related topics. It sounds like it could be overwhelming, but honestly, I don’t think I ever got bored.
I didn’t love Artemis as much as The Martian, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. It’s not because of Jazz, because I really loved her character. But I think the vast scope of The Martian made it feel like much more of an epic adventure story. In Artemis, the entire story takes place in a very small area, and despite a couple of close calls, I never really felt the danger of being on a planet where you can’t even breath without proper equipment.
But I was happy to see room at the end of the story for potential sequels. There’s the issue of Kelvin and Jazz meeting someday, of course. There’s also plenty of juicy political fodder for Weir to play with. I won’t tell you how the story ends, but let’s just say the city of Artemis goes through some big changes that could certainly be turned into interesting and exciting plots. I do hope there isn’t another three year wait for Andy Weir’s next book, but in the meantime, I’m sure a movie of Artemis is somewhere on the horizon.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
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