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 sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. 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.
First of all, I’d like to address the elephant in the room: it’s almost impossible to write a review of Artemis without addressing Weir’s first novel. The Martian was a fantastic book and an amazing success. It went from a blog following to self-publishing to having a full book deal with a subsequent blockbuster movie. Andy Weir should be proud of himself because that is an amazing accomplishment. I adored The Martian. I love the writing style, the science, the characters, the plot. I loved all of it.
Artemis was one of the my most disappointing reads of 2017 for me. I sped through The Martian in a morning. It took me three weeks of trying to read Artemis to finally finish. I read literally 12 other books during the time it took me to slog through the narrative.
The biggest disappointment was that my beloved Mark Watney was rewritten into the incredibly irksome Jazz Bashera. The conversational style worked in The Martian because, well, he was completely alone on Mars and talking directly to a log/the readers. Jazz, however frequently breaks the fourth wall, which doesn’t make any sense since this book is not her journal and she is not talking to the readers.
The sarcastic, smartass personality of Mark Watney was just as much a survival tool as his advanced degrees. He was able to survive being abandoned on a different planet because he not only had the right survival skills, but because his personality kept him from wallowing and giving up. THIS WAS NOT THE CASE WITH JAZZ. With her, the same traits came off as being selfish and incredibly immature. I was worried that I didn’t like Jazz’s sarcasm because she was a woman, but no, it was just because she wasn’t likable.
The book flows back and forth between young Jazz’s pen-pal letters as she grows up and her current day predicament. Young Jazz is an asshole. Older Jazz is brilliant, yet also a lazy and underachieving asshole. She is selfish, childish and always looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. Despite my initial dislike of her character, I kept reading because I figured that she would grow up a bit. I really enjoy the redemption of a truly unlikable character (see my review for The Gentleman’s Guide for Vice and Virtue) and I kept hoping this would be it.
The book was funny, but the sex jokes got really old really fast. I think the story would have been better served from a 3rd person or rotating POV that strictly from Jazz’s. She’s polarizing and can be grating. Also, I’m really confused why everyone keeps mentioning her sex life. Is she the town whore? Tramp? It was extremely off putting.
I liked that Weir tried to build a diverse population in Artemis (Jazz herself is an Arabic Muslim), however there were times when it felt like a culture was simply pasted on generic white people.
Before it sounds like I hated the book entirely, I didn’t. Andy Weird can craft a fascinating story with great attention to details. The book started off as an enjoyable read. I enjoyed Weir’s signature attention to scientific detail. I liked hearing about how the gravity and atmosphere changed how everyday life was conducted. Honestly, there weren’t enough moon and science facts for me.
I found both the setting and world building in this book to be creative and interesting. Science fiction has gotten away from Moon colonies as a setting, but I’m glad that Weir brought them back. I liked the lunar city a lot. I liked the focus on the “everyday joes” that keep the city moving as opposed to the elite. I could picture what Artemis looked like clearly and had a good idea of how the city functioned.
The plot was consistent and steady, but not a rip-roaring ride for the first half and then it began to peter out for me. The heist itself seemed slap-dash and it was really lacking a strong motivation. I would read it on my lunch break but didn’t feel compelled to keep going when I got home.
Overall, I found the book to a disappointment, but I think it could still be an entertaining, if somewhat predictable, read for someone else.
Grade: 2 stars/C-
Recommended for: fans of Ocean’s 11, moon colonies, sarcastic main characters who need to frequently remind the readers that yes, they do in fact have boobs and that boobs are hilarious.
This book was provided to me as an ARC by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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