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BOOK REVIEW: Artemis by Andy Weir

BOOK REVIEW: Artemis by Andy Weir

Del Rey
November 2017
Paperback, $32.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Science Fiction

6/10

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 is offered the chance to get rich quick. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her 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 riskier than the first.

 

Following a book like The Martian can not be an easy task. Everyone’s going to expect the humour and engagement of the big hit that stunned readers and movie-goers alike. 

While Artemis is perfectly “fine” as far as science fiction goes (though perhaps with a leaning towards the young adult age group), it is rather a letdown after one of the more memorable books of 2014 and has very little in the way of memorable moments. It definitely suffers from second-book-syndrome.

There’s some great world-building here, and it’s clear that Weir did quite a lot of homework to get it just right.

You can’t gestate a baby in lunar gravity—it leads to birth defects. And you can’t raise a baby here anyway. It’s terrible for bone and muscle development. When I moved here I was six years old—that was the minimum age for residency back then. Since then they’ve bumped it up to twelve. Should I be worried?

But that unfortunately led to the kind of info-dumping that would have felt more natural in The Martian but instead could feel rather tedious at times during Artemis.

Beyond the first third of the book, the pace does pick up and there is a lot more action and a lot less info-dumping. Beyond the first third it does become harder to set the book down, and the cliffhanger chapters will encourage you to keep reading.

It is a fairly enjoyable, quick read, but it has its issues.

Some of the problems stem from the characters, mainly when it comes to their relationships with Jazz. They continue to give her chance after chance, even when she goes way over the line, and they harp on and on about how much unused potential she has, like this is a reason for her to be given so many chances? Several times she offers money to the people involved in her schemes for services rendered, and they always turn it down in favour of things like friendship.

“My whole job is exploiting underutilized resources. And you are a massively underutilized resource.”

“You’re such an intelligent girl, Jasmine. If only you’d apply yourself.”
“If this is turning into a ‘You have so much potential’ lecture, just shoot me instead, okay?”

“I mean, it’s not your style. It was risk – and you’re really smart.”

I am so fucking sick of the word “potential.” I’m sick of hearing it from Dad, from teachers, and every goddamn “adult” I meet.

To be fair… there are a couple of people who feel a little differently about her, but with one notable exception, they continue to give her chances anyway.

“Dammit, Bob,” I said. “I don’t want to spend time on the ‘will you or won’t you help me’ part. If you don’t understand why we have to do this, go stand in the corner until you do.”
“You’re such an asshole,” said Bob.
“Hey!” Dad shot Bob a look that made the burly marine draw back.
“He’s right, Dad. I am an asshole. But Artemis needs an asshole right now and I got drafted.”

Jazz is twenty-six, but the way she acts and talks, and sometimes even the way she thinks, suggest a much younger protagonist, closer to eighteen than twenty-six, and there are some seriously cringe-worthy lines.

I stared daggers at Dale. He didn’t notice. Damn, I wasted a perfectly good bitchy glare.

This younger than suggested age is only backed up by the number of times she does something without thinking it through and puts her own life and the lives of others in danger.

The crime Jazz is asked to commit (revealed in the second chapter) involves destroying the oxygen production to their city. The person employing her has safety nets and replacement options, but the fact remains… She lives in a city on the moon, where there is no natural oxygen production, where two-thousand people live and rely on these things to produce oxygen, and she agrees to put people in danger for a big enough pay day.

And if I got caught I’d get exiled to Earth. I probably couldn’t stand up on Earth, let alone live there. I’d been in lunar gravity since I was six.
No. I was a smuggler, not a saboteur. And something smelled off about the whole thing.
“I’m sorry, but this isn’t my thing,” I said. “You’ll have to find someone else.”
“I’ll give you a million slugs.”
“Deal.”

In the end this smacked of a book that was trying too hard to be funny and edgy all at once, and in which a certain formula was followed to meet the success of the previous book. Weir spent a year developing his city on the moon before he started writing the story, and that comes through in the final product. He had a great setting and had to work out a story to fill those bubbles, and it came off as a little forced and not as engaging or memorable as his readers may have come to expect.

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Artemis by Andy Weir

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