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 Jazz’s 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 more unlikely than the first. – GOODREADS
The Martian was my favorite book in 2016, and I was also a fan of the movie when I saw it in 2017. When I heard that Andy Weir was releasing a new book I was stoked and waited eagerly for its release. In November of last year, Artemis hit the shelves. The blurb revealed that it was another book set in space, but this time on the Moon. Wow. I couldn’t wait to get a copy and delve back into Weir’s universe.
As with The Martian, the book does contain a lot of the author’s trademark detail (ie. technical explanations etc), which I think is an asset in adding authenticity to the plot. It shows that the content is well researched and that what is happening is scientifically and technically possible.
Artemis is a settlement on the moon, which comprises of a number of domes (named after famous astronauts) where a sizeable population of 2000 people live. Aside from the local mining industry, part of its economy is fed by tourism, where people wealthy enough come from Earth to visit the Moon for a vacation. Besides the obvious attraction of being on the Moon, the other main tourist spot is the site of the lunar landing. It reminded me of the mock-up that I went to at NASA in Florida, but instead of sitting in a theatre with a replica lander and special effects, the space tourists are at the real site looking through a thick glass wall at the actual landing module and astronaut footprints.
The main character, Jazz, is a young woman who is making her humble living as a courier/deliverer/small-time smuggler. Although she seemed nice enough, I don’t think I really got onboard with her. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s easier to connect with someone who is on the side of good, rather than someone who is on the side that we normally oppose. That said, we do love Han Solo, and he was a smuggler!
I found the first half of the book very slow. I realize that it was all about setting up for the second half, but I didn’t find it that engaging. Perhaps I was expecting too much, given how much I liked The Martian. I think that my memories of Weir’s first book kept me going to see where it was all leading. Jazz is a strong woman, driven mainly by her need for cash and a want to improve her life. Maybe it was her self-focus that failed to click with me. In the first half of the book she makes some questionable decisions that definitely make her some enemies, and as such, it sets up for the ensuing plot line.
Once we moved into the second half things got much better. The plot was thickening, the pace quickened, thrilling arrived, and there was a lot more happening. In order to move forward and try to fix things, Jazz needed to dig deep and find unique ways to deal with the situation she was in. This was reminiscent of what I liked about The Martian – making the most of what you have to keep going.
Without giving too much away, there was a section of the plot in the second half that I thought would have been a much more exciting area to focus on and expand, instead of the amount of time allocated to the first half. I hope that makes sense. In my opinion, it would have made for a more exciting and thrilling story.
Artemis is a good book, which gets better as you read more. If you find yourself lagging during the first half, hang in there and keep reading. Although, it’s not as good as The Martian, it should keep sci-fi fans entertained.
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