Monday, January 22, 2018


Title:  Artemis
Author:  Andy Weir
Publication Information:  Crown. 2017. 320 pages.
ISBN:  0553448129 / 978-0553448122

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I bounded over the gray, dusty terrain toward the huge dome of Conrad Bubble."

Favorite Quote:  "One thing I picked up from Dad:  always keep your bargains. He worked withing the law and I didn't, but the principle was the same. People will trust a reliable criminal more readily than a shady businessman."

Artemis suffers perhaps from the resounding success of The Martian. The originality and the success of both that book and the movie adaptation create a high bar for this book. It's my reason for wanting to read this book. I want to be engaged in the way I was in the first book.

Artemis, while an entertaining story, does not quite measure up to The Martian. It does not have the same drama, intensity, or compelling main character. Artemis ultimately is not a story about survival. It is about politics and greed - two emotions that firmly ground the book in a seedy reality even though it is set on the moon. The setting provides a context and the "techy" end of the story, but really the business and political intrigue could be anywhere.

Jasmine aka Jazz Bashara grew up in Artemis, the only lunar colony. She is twenty-six and barely making it on her own. She has a father from whom she is estranged. Her dream is to be rich, the quicker the better. The character of Jazz is one of the issues with the book. She is a grown woman, but mostly sounds like a teenager. She is concerned about appearances and works a lot of sexual innuendo into her conversations. This oddly sounds a lot like Mark Watley, the main character of The Martian.

This attempt at humor worked in the life-and-imminent-death situation in The Martian. It is less successful here as the book does not have that emotional intensity. This book is about a business deal gone bad not about imminent death. It is about a petty criminal looking to make her one big deal.  As such, these notes just make Jazz seem younger and more immature than her age would suggest and make the book a little awkward.

Interestingly, the point is made repeatedly in the book that Jazz is of Arab heritage. For her, Artemis is the only home she has ever known. Events in the book do bring up the possibility of deportation to a place she have never known. For all the childish characterization, Jazz is also independent and brilliant in engineering and mathematics. She is a survivor and a businesswoman. Unfortunately the description goes in the other direction as well, perpetuating some of the stereotypes with comments such as niqabs as a way to "wear a mask without arousing suspicion." The comments do go broader in that Artemis seems to be run by Kenyans but has a very American cultural feel; this facet of the book is never developed. Perhaps a political point is embedded somewhere in there? But going in all sorts of directions? Why? The purpose becomes muddled.

Overall, the book very much has a YA feel. This stems from Jazz herself, the arguments with her father which center on applying her intelligence towards school, and the quoted letters to her penpal on Earth which seem to not serve a big purpose in the story.

All that aside, the book is a very quick read and has its moments. Although not enamored of this book, I will read what Andy Weir comes up with next.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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