Artemis is not The Martian.
When someone writes a book that swept the nation like The Martian, and they come out with another super-science space novel you kinda expect more of the same. Artemis is in a way more of the same- but not in any of the ways you are expecting.
It is heavy on the science, sarcasm, and snark. Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara has lived on Artemis her whole life and has made a lot of mistakes in that time. She’s a professional smuggler looking to make a little extra money to get out of her ‘coffin’ apartment and on the outs with her father. Artemis is a full city of two thousand people living on the moon. Tourists come and stay there and spend a lot of money doing so, but the blue collar and underbelly people have to try a little harder to get that spending cash. So when Jazz is offered a million slugs (Artemis currency) to destroy some equipment she can’t bring herself to say no.
And then, of course, it backfires. And some people are dead. And now she’s on the run. In a city, that’s in a bubble… on the moon. Oh boy. Jazz luckily has a great group of interesting friends, a quick wit, a sharp mind, and a lot of sarcasm to digest it.
I enjoyed Artemis a lot. It was a fun heist/caper/suspense novel but I think the biggest problem readers will end up having is the stakes are different from The Martian. In The Martian, we are rooting for Mark to make it back home. It is one man fighting an entire planet and trying to use his brains, potatoes, and limited resources to survive. In Artemis, we are along for the ride as Jazz makes purposefully nefarious and underground decisions and you are hoping she doesn’t die but you just never know. The other problem for readers might be the science. With Mark, he gave us short log entries, that were digestible and it felt like Mark did a lot of talking through his problems so we could keep up. Here Jazz lives and breathes space science every day. She has to tell us everything about Artemis and it can become a lot holding how many double air lock chambers, entrances, valves, air pressure readings, small-town economy checks and balances, and etc that Artemis contains. It’s a lot on the reader to be able to remember things at a time and Weir does a good job to remind us along the way but it can be a bit much at times.
Artemis is an enjoyable book, it’s enjoyable, science-y, has a good caper, and the characters are off-kilter but endearing all the same (for the last time Svoboda she will try out your condom when she is good and ready!) Just remember, it’s not The Martian.
Artemis is in stores today. (Crown Publishing Group, $27.00, ISBN 0553448129).