Jazz Bashara is the premier smuggler working on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon. When she is offered bigger money for a more dangerous job, Jazz finds herself in way over her head.
I read Andy Weir’s first novel, The Martian, during a camping trip last year, and I remember wishing for an internet connection while I was reading. It would have helped me to understand the complex descriptions of mathematics and physics that were completely outside my field of knowledge. As it was, I enjoyed the book but it was a rare instance where I thought that the movie was superior, partially just for its fantastic disco soundtrack.
I approached Weir’s second novel, Artemis, with a certain amount of trepidation. And, as expected, it helps if you have a basic working knowledge of physics and engineering while reading this book. However, Weir did seem to rein himself a bit. I never got the feeling that I was reading a textbook, as I sometimes felt with The Martian. Some of the action sequences can be a bit hard to follow if you don’t understand the finer points of welding or robotics, but this is first and foremost a “caper” novel, and it unravels with gleeful abandon once it gets off its feet.
The first two-thirds of the novel are fast-paced and fun. We are introduced to Jazz Bashara, a girl who has grown up on the world’s first lunar colony. The descriptions of the city of Artemis allow us to draw a concrete visual of an area that exists in the vertical as much as it does the horizontal. Each “bubble” consists of at least as many stories below ground as it does above ground. The passages that outline how the residents of Artemis deal with the constant influx of extraordinarily rich tourists are a treat. Even on the moon, the almighty dollar reigns supreme.
Jazz knows this better than most. Confined to a “coffin” apartment underground (picture the capsule hotels of Tokyo) Jazz dreams of earning enough money for her own bathroom. When she is approached by one of the extraordinarily rich billionaires with the potential for a million dollar job, how can she refuse?
Jazz is a very fun character. She is sarcastic and self-reliant. She is, however; a bit of an asshole. I couldn’t figure out why there were so many people willing to stick their necks out to help her. The sarcastic assholes of the world do not generally inspire such loyalty. I also became annoyed by her “witty” interjections towards the end of the novel. For instance, take this quote:
“Dale handed me my jumpsuit. I put it on faster than I’d ever put on clothes before. Well…second fastest (my high school boyfriend’s parent’s came home earlier than expected one day).”
In a life-and-death situation, this kind of sarcastic quip comes off as inappropriate. It’s almost as if Weir was trying to emulate the kind of irreverence popularized by the Avenger films. The world’s in danger! Time for jokes! It works for awhile, but wears thin towards the end.
Overall, I found Artemis far easier to follow than The Martian. The idea of Jason Bourne running around on a lunar colony is a fun one, and Weir manages to sell us on all the enjoyable possibilities of a heist on the moon.
My Rating: 3.5/5
Happy Reading Everyone!