Review: Artemis

November 15, 2017


Artemis by Andy Weir
Rating: ★★★★★

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.

So, one of the best parts of reviewing books is being able to surprise your wife with a particularly exciting book that they’ve been looking forward to, forever. Except she didn’t even know it was coming out. I knew how much she’d loved The Martian a couple of years ago when she first read it, and I was positive she’d be excited to read this newest novel from the same author.

When I told her I’d gotten a review copy of it, she squeed. Literally. I kid you not.

So, without further ado, here is my wife – Wendy – to review Andy Weir’s newest novel: Artemis.

I love sci-fi.

I love strong, well-written heroines.

I love Andy Weir.

I came a little late to the Andy Weir loving game. In 2015, Mr. Weir catapulted onto my radar with the impending release of the film adaptation of his novel, The Martian. Having read my fair share of sci-fi and having a borderline unhealthy obsession with the genre as a whole, I was taken by surprise with this new Matt Damon venture. I decided, as all good geeks do, to read the book first.

The Martian was my favorite novel of 2015. I laughed, I gasped, I hooted, and I chewed on my perfectly polished and manicured nails that I never-ever put into my mouth…it was that good. I ignored my wife entirely while on a flight during a weekend getaway, and she was rewarded by my presence with only random giggles brought about by Mark Watney’s antics. I gave a copy to a friend for a Christmas gift that year, and recommend the novel to all of my sci-fi friends who like me, had somehow missed out on this gift from Andy Weir’s brain.

It is now 2017, and what reward could I expect from the universe for having survived some of the shittiest years ever in my personal record since Mark left me googly eyed?

Jazz.

I LOVE me some Jazz.

I want you to understand that when it comes to the world of literature, I am a snob. I am impossible to please, and I go into novels with nearly a determination to find something to fault. I hate being caught up in fads and trends—so if someone else loves it, I must hate it. Maybe I’m a closeted hipster…

You want to really get me up into a tizzy? Write a female lead, and do it wrong.  In the past, even my favorite authors have managed to screw up all-time-favorite heroines in series that I’ve followed for years, and I spare them no criticisms in my disappointment.  You see, I am incredibly difficult to please, and it is impossible to get me to stop working on the 57,000 things I have in process long enough to have me watch a film or read a book. If you are going to hook me—you’d better be damn good.

Jazz is that good.

There is this line in the sand when writing strong women that many authors can’t seem to traverse. They’ll toe the safe side of the line and downplay her strengths the second someone with a Y-chromosome steps into the scene. Or they take her to the other side of the line and make her into some kind of completely unrealistic, sociopathic, robot, superwoman who needs no help from no one. Now, I’ll admit I had some concerns going into this novel about Andy’s version of a female lead. I’d read Mark and as a pioneering space pirate he was incredibly well written, but I didn’t know if Andy could give me that same connection to someone of the opposite sex. I needn’t have worried. He did not disappoint.

Jazz is a complex, intricate, and extraordinary character who is also incredibly relatable. Without giving away spoilers (Jazz’s character development is, I feel, important for you to experience firsthand, as the author intended) I will tell you that I felt like Jazz’s life and my own had more parallels than I thought possible. I had felt some of her same lows, and known some of her same highs, and I understood how beautiful it is to witness the chaos of a woman who is unapologetically herself. Jazz was neither over nor underwritten, she was developed with the perfect blend of intellect, spunk, guile, morality, and I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude.

You may have found in other novels with an incredibly well written character who has an established voice, that the supporting characters fall flat, or blend—that didn’t happen here. Every character was as three dimensional and dynamic to me as Jazz, and I finished the book finding myself wishing I could have a little more of their stories, too. I envisioned a series of novels, perhaps even an HBO series, (move over GoT – Jazz is here to play) or maybe even a movie trilogy.  When the book ended, I was immediately thrown into the dreaded book hang-over stage. Do I do a two-part Weir re-read and start with The Martian, do I immediately start Artemis again, do I contemplate other novels on my shelves, or throw myself headlong into a TV binge?

I read Artemis fast. From start to finish it took me 12 hours, with a break for that pesky sleeping thing and taking children to school in the middle. I honestly, can’t remember the last time I shut the world out like that and let myself become absorbed into something else.  I love sci-fi for this very reason. I’ve long dreamed of other worlds and alien cultures, and I’ve always been painfully aware that I was born a few centuries too soon. I find myself staring at the stars heartbroken that I’ll never leave this planet, from time to time. And I can become quite despondent when I think of all the amazing things I’ll never see or experience out there in the universe; so for me, a solidly written science fiction novel is a boon to this trapped soul with an insatiable intergalactic wanderlust. This book was exactly what I needed.

Artemis moves fast, it delivers on the “science-ing”, and it is an incredibly well built world. Once an author passes my personal character test, the world building is normally where I get them. This world spared no details and did it without cramming a ton of history down my throat. Andy Weir then takes it a step further now, apparently feeling overly confident because he had just delivered into my hands an amazing heroine and a solid world, by giving you some seriously good science. I don’t much enjoy fantasy novels, because I’ve never been able to suspend the entire logical part of my brain that commands some part of the story I’m reading must be at least partly believable.

This is why I love science fiction. I get the extraordinary worlds, settings, and stories with the very real possibility that this could actually happen, be happening, or have happened. The annoying left side of my brain is now happy and satisfied that this fiction actually makes sense, allowing the right side of my brain to take over and submerge us into the story. The hard science details are here, as painfully developed and implanted as the “soft world shell” they sit in, creating one harmonious blend of fact and fiction. As I read and become more immersed in the story, the excitement level just continues to escalate. This is a unique skill not all authors have perfected. Leaving you feeling like you’re actually there with Jazz moving through the events as they unfold? Bonus. I didn’t guess anything that came.

Ahh, guessing the whole plot is the final nail I have driven into a few writer coffins. I said earlier my brain is always processing a high number of tasks, this does not stop when I begin reading—it simply redirects into the story. If I can guess the end, you fail. You want to win me over? Keep me guessing. Artemis certainly didn’t disappoint here either. Every few seconds I felt like I was getting the shock of my life. Reading from Jazz’s POV though, I’m sure that was exactly the point.

If Mark was my favorite read from 2015, Jazz certainly secured 2017. I am now officially a fangirl, and anxiously awaiting more from Andy Weir.

You do a credit to the genre, Weir. Please give us more soon.

November 14, 2017
November 16, 2017

Angela

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