Artemis by Andy Weir
3 out of 5 stars
The second book by Andy Weir! Boy, have I been waiting for this!
City on the moon – check. Kickass female protagonist – check. A fun time – and some curse words – in space – let’s do this!
Okay, let’s start with the obvious.
In 2014 I received a digital ARC of The Martian and I absolutely, completely, utterly loved that book. As a bookseller I recommended it several times a day, I wanted everyone to read this fantastic new take on the Robinson Crusoe theme. I was so in awe of the storytelling, the suspense and the unique voice Andy Weir had created with his debut (!) novel.
Of course, people are going to compare Artemis with its predecessor. And what can I say, reading it I could never completely turn off that part of me that wanted another wowing science fiction story from the man who created the most memorable castaway since Tom Hanks. I think it’s normal and pretty inevitable to have high expectations in someone who has impressed you with his writing before.
In short, I did compare. (Btw, how awful is that cover art?! And on both editions!!)
There are two things Weir is an absolute genius at – world/character building and humour!
He created a believable picture of a city on the moon. Not that it is anything we have never seen or read before in sci-fi but it’s just so authentic! It is futuristic but it’s not that far off. Just like a manned mission to Mars, you could believe that the development of this city is where humanity might be headed. I love that he has scientific explanations for every little detail (like how oxygen is created and pumped into the city) and although I won’t pretend I understood too much of it, I felt it was all sound. He incorporates human history of space travel into the novel’s present by making the location of the moon landing a tourist spot and thereby part of the city’s history and tourism industry. He manages to create a believable future of politics and economics of Earth. We might not get to see too much of our home planet but the info we get about it seems like an authentic extrapolation of the present.
All in all a world that is far away from our everyday life but still very easy to imagine.
The second thing about Weir’s writing is that he’s not afraid of making a joke. His characters curse and use colloquialisms. Personally, I like his kind of dry humour. Though some of the sexual innuendos fell a bit flat and sometimes Jazz did sound a bit like Watney’s little sister, I think he once again managed to create an individual voice and a fleshed out main character (could’ve worked on the secondaries a bit more, though).
So, Andy Weir is really really good at creating authentic worlds and characters. He knows how to write entertaining people and he doesn’t take the borders of genre too seriously.
However, in Artemis, there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to plot!
The main plot is simply too linear. It’s pretty much a typical heist plot. A gang of characters forms over the course of the novel in order to blow something up and thereby saving the world (or, in this case, the moon). I say main plot but there were actually no subplots whatsoever. Yes, there is a bit of a mystery going on at the beginning surrounding Jazz’s “client” and his motives. And there are a few background stories concerning Jazz’s friends and foes. But that’s about the size of it.
Last point of criticism. Ok, so this is where I’m guilty of comparison again. I’m not going to pretend that I understood all that science stuff he throws at you in The Martian. BUT I actually liked those parts. With Artemis, I got the feeling that the publisher might have cautioned the author to go easy on the science bits in order to attract a wider audience. I would’ve loved it if he would’ve gone full-science-geek on us.
Simply put I would have loved Artemis to be a bit more Martian.