Final Thoughts: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Andy Weir, well-known for his novel The Martian (yes, the one they made into a Matt Damon movie), has gifted us with another elaborate science fiction wonderland. In his second novel Artemis, we follow the journey of Jazz Bashara, an Arabic woman who’s lived on the titular lunar settlement since she was six years old. Jazz is a criminal, driven by financial gain, and when a rich businessman comes knocking for her illicit services, she concocts a detailed, dangerous scheme to deliver the bargain. As the politics, government, and seedy underbelly of Artemis crash in around her, she must race against time to preserve her own life and the safety of the entire city.
This book immediately held a high spot in my heart because I read it via audiobook narrated by the supremely wonderful Rosario Dawson. Dawson’s voice brought the book to life, and lended such gravity (no pun intended) to Jazz Bashara’s character. One repeat comment I’ve seen across reviews is that many readers didn’t love Jazz’s extreme levels of snark, snobbery, and sass. Let the record show that I love Jazz’s attitude problems. Maybe it was simply because my girl Rosario killed it, but I honestly found Jazz to be hilarious, stubborn, carefree, and totally fun to read. She gets herself into trouble with dangerous people, and with a tone like hers, how could you not get yourself wrapped up in sticky situations?
Weir’s talent for world-building is mildly difficult to overstate. Artemis is an incredibly creative and unique setting. Not only are the mechanics of the landscape thoroughly thought out, but the social and cultural atmosphere of the settlement is just as deeply written. Weir’s world is a perfect backdrop for an out-of-this-world plot (again: no pun intended), and the thoughtfulness of his outlining and development is so visible.
My issues with Artemis begin primarily with his usage of Jazz’s personal life. He brings in her relationships and sex life frequently, and every time, the words “Why!” grew louder in my head. While I admire Jazz as a character, I never once felt that the details of her intimate life lent anything to her character or the story. Maybe Weir was struggling with writing a female character, but I definitely couldn’t get past the unnecessary and forceful application of Jazz’s sexual encounters.
One qualm I did have with her sassy attitude is that many of the other characters occasionally echo it. I can understand Jazz being a brat, but when other adult characters mirror her immature behavior, then I have to question the quality of character voicing. Policemen, government officials, scientists…these secondary characters should probably have less in common with the snotty, thieving protagonist.
Weir is the king of details, and while I appreciated his attention for the first 100 pages or so, the book felt a little more than tedious when we were still having lessons on the engineering of Artemis in the final action scenes. The mechanical and technical points did wonders for his creation and imagery of his world, but Weir might’ve slowed his story down with all the heavy explanations.
This book felt a little too YA for my tastes, especially when it hasn’t exactly been marketed as such. I never really felt the drama of a life-or-death struggle that Jazz is supposedly undertaking. With that said, I’d be hard-pressed to find any book similar to Artemis. Weir has delivered a totally original story, and no one can take away from the strength of his ability to tie fictional landscapes into realistic applications. Smart and sassy, funny and complex, Artemis was certainly an imaginative read, and I quite enjoyed my time on the moon.
Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review!