Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽'s Reviews > Artemis

Artemis by Andy Weir
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bookshelves: science-fiction, suspense, techno-thriller, netgalley

On sale today! 3.25 stars - sadly, I'm dropping down from my initial "soft" 4 star rating, on further reflection. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Life in Artemis, the only human city on the moon, is rough for Jasmine Bashara, a 26 year old delivery person, smuggler, and would-be tourist guide. She fails her EVA (extravehicular activity) Guild exam in, literally, breathtaking fashion; she’s somewhat estranged from her welder father, to whom she owes a huge personal debt; she’s living alone in a tiny, claustrophobia-inducing capsule room; she barely gets by on her payments as a porter (supplemented by some judicious smuggling activity). But Jazz wouldn’t want to live any other place ― certainly not on Earth ― and she’s determined to make a success of her life, with no help from anyone.

So when Trond Landvik, one of the wealthiest people on the moon and a regular customer for Jazz’s smuggled luxuries, offers her a million “slugs” (moon currency) to do a highly illegal sabotage job, Jazz can’t resist. Trond’s intention is to disrupt Sanchez Aluminum’s production of oxygen for long enough that he can take over the business, for reasons he’s cagey about. The job requires Jazz to sneak out of the domed city of Artemis (tough when all comings and goings out of the city’s four airlocks are constantly monitored) and take out four massive anorthite harvester machines. Jazz is both brilliant and determined, and comes up with a complicated scheme worthy of Mark Watney. But the plan doesn’t work out quite the way she intended, organized crime elements get involved, and suddenly it’s a life-and-death situation for Jazz.

Artemis (2017), Andy Weir’s just-published second novel, didn’t engage me nearly to the extent The Martian did, but it’s action-packed and ― once the crimes finally get rolling ― compulsively readable. There’s a complex crime caper on the moon and lots of geeky hard science details. The domed moon city setting is laid out with a great deal attention to detail; Weir’s world (or moon)-building is fairly elaborate, if not fleshed out quite as completely as I would have liked. I suppose something had to give to work in all the science facts and the too often cringe-worthy jokes.

The cast of characters in Artemis is highly diverse, beginning with Jazz herself, a rebellious Arab young woman protagonist. She’s Muslim in heritage, though non-religious and sexually active. Artemis’ government is controlled by Kenya, with a female administrator, and its population is a cross-section of several Earth nationalities. One of Jazz’s friends is gay, though their relationship’s been on the rocks since he “stole” Jazz’s former boyfriend away from her ― ouch. Jazz also has had a Kenyan pen pal since she was nine years old; their mildly interesting letters provide interludes at the end of each chapter, giving us some background information regarding Jazz’s past, and gradually tying back into Jazz’s present circumstances.

Unfortunately, characterization isn’t otherwise a strong point in Artemis. Jazz’s juvenile, snarky personality frequently irritated me. She’s a genius ― when motivated, she picks up electronics design and the chemistry underlying high-temperature smelting with a few quick hours of study ― but she often acts in childish, petulant ways because of her pride and rebelliousness. Her character and fondness for crude jokes makes Jazz read more like a teenage boy than a woman in her mid-twenties. Her mantra in life seems to be “nobody can tell me what to do.” Jazz gradually gains a sliver of wisdom and redemption, but it’s limited. The secondary characters are (mostly) appealing personalities, but easily recognizable and one-dimensional types.

Artemis’s crime caper plot is also a more standard and familiar one; the novel as a whole just isn’t as fresh or compelling as The Martian. While the hard science details aren’t given short shrift, they flow less smoothly in Artemis than in The Martian, bogging down the pace somewhat. However, Weir is clearly making an effort to expand his horizons: along with the greater diversity, the reader is also treated to lessons in wealth inequality, economics, and sciences like welding and smelting. Duct tape even makes a brief but memorable appearance in the plot, in a mic drop scene sure to be appreciated by fans of The Martian.

In the end, Artemis was a reasonably engaging story, but Weir’s shortcomings as an author are more apparent here, with the less gripping plot, than they were in The Martian. Whether you’ll enjoy Artemis depends, I think, upon your affinity (or tolerance) for complex crime caper plots, immature protagonists, and an abundance of technical science.

I received a free copy of this ebook from the publisher and NetGalley for review. Thanks!

Content note: Somewhat frequent F-bombs; sexually active main character (view spoiler).
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Reading Progress

July 21, 2017 – Shelved
July 21, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
October 27, 2017 – Started Reading
October 27, 2017 – Shelved as: science-fiction
October 27, 2017 – Shelved as: suspense
October 27, 2017 – Shelved as: techno-thriller
October 27, 2017 – Shelved as: netgalley
October 27, 2017 –
31.0% "Why do I have the feeling that what Jazz is about to do is a really, REALLY bad idea? She's both a genius and an idiot."
October 28, 2017 –
61.0% "If I were Ngugi, I’d have a huge office overlooking the Aldrin Arcade. And it would have a wet bar and leather chairs and other cool powerful-people stuff. And a personal assistant. A beefy yet gentle guy who called me “boss” all the time. Yeah."
October 28, 2017 –
95.0% "“It’ll be all right. I’m not going anywhere.”
“You sure?”
“Yeah, I have a plan.”
“A plan?” He looked concerned. “You plans are . . . uh . . . should I hide somewhere?”"
October 28, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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Kevin Kuhn A bit bummed to read this - I guess I was hoping for a full repeat of the Martian. I'll still read it, but now going in with more realistic expectations. Thanks for the review.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Kevin wrote: "A bit bummed to read this - I guess I was hoping for a full repeat of the Martian. I'll still read it, but now going in with more realistic expectations. Thanks for the review."

I know, I was so hopeful too, because I loved The Martian. This is a fun book to read, still. I do think you'll like it better if you don't expect greatness.


Critterbee❇ I found Artemis enjoyable enough, getting past the awkwardness of Weir writing from the female protagonist's pov.

But it would be difficult to match the impact of the Martian. Reading it without comparing it to the Martian, it is a really intense, fun read.


Critterbee❇ To clarify, I felt that Weir was trying for a believable female character, but couldn't quite figure out how to balance a realistic, nuanced, tenacious, vulnerable, flawed mastermind of a character. I admire him for trying.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ ❇Critterbee wrote: "To clarify, I felt that Weir was trying for a believable female character, but couldn't quite figure out how to balance a realistic, nuanced, tenacious, vulnerable, flawed mastermind of a character..."

I agree he tried, with mixed success. His characterization skills may well improve as he keeps writing.


message 6: by TS (new) - rated it 4 stars

TS Chan I completely agree with your assessment of Jazz, and that is a significant reason behing me liking this less than The Martian. Mark Watney was so endearing.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ TS wrote: "I completely agree with your assessment of Jazz, and that is a significant reason behing me liking this less than The Martian. Mark Watney was so endearing."

Mark was someone I'd like to hang out with. Jazz makes me roll my eyes and want to say, grow up and get a real job.


message 8: by TS (new) - rated it 4 stars

TS Chan Hahaha, I just saw what you put in the spoiler tag! Look forward to your full review. :)


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ TS wrote: "Hahaha, I just saw what you put in the spoiler tag! Look forward to your full review. :)"

For all the talking she and everyone around her does (view spoiler)!


Critterbee❇ That is part of what I felt was so awkward - Weir is trying to do a fair and accurate job portraying a roguish female character, but he is just working by guesswork, and can not quite get there.

I agree with you that:
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ wrote: "His characterization skills may well improve as he keeps writing."

I think (view spoiler)


message 11: by Tandie (new) - added it

Tandie I was worried. The Martian was so dang good, a hard act to follow.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Tandie wrote: "I was worried. The Martian was so dang good, a hard act to follow."

Yup. He tried, but it's just missing that something that made The Martian magical.


message 13: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Thanks for the honest review Tadiana. I have this book to read. I know there are some that have read it and thought it to be as great as The Martian, but I also understand that it's probably difficult sometimes for authors to have 5 stars every time. Now I can approach it realistically. Great review.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Sarah wrote: "Thanks for the honest review Tadiana. I have this book to read. I know there are some that have read it and thought it to be as great as The Martian, but I also understand that it's probably diffic..."

You're welcome! You'll probably enjoy it more if your expectations aren't set too high. I've noticed a few 1 and 2 star reviews out there, but I really don't think it's that bad. It's a fun read if you're in the mood for this type of book.


message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ wrote: "Sarah wrote: "Thanks for the honest review Tadiana. I have this book to read. I know there are some that have read it and thought it to be as great as The Martian, but I also understand that it's p..."

I understand. Sometimes I'm hesitant because of second books


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