Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Summary: 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.
This was not the review I was hoping to write. I haven’t read or watched The Martian but friends all over have recommended it to me, so I was expecting Artemis to be similarly mind-blowing. Needless to say, it was not.
Quite frankly, I had so many issues, I struggled to figure out where to start. I suppose I’ll talk about the good before the bad. The one redeeming feature was the amount of research that clearly went into the science and economics of Artemis, both book and city. Weir spends time to detail the science behind how this city on the Moon, Artemis, was built and maintained. We learn what kinds of manpower and resources are needed, the general design of the complex, and most interestingly, the politics and economics of funding Artemis. Everything is described in layman’s terms and super easy to understand. I also learned way more about the art of welding than I’d expected. That is, however, about where the good ends.
I disliked pretty much everything else about this book. Not in a horrendously bad way, but many things were grating or felt mediocre. Firstly, the characters. The main character, Jazz, is supposed to be a 26-year-old Saudia Arabian woman who’s lived on the moon since childhood. Her father moved to Artemis early on as a welder, bringing his daughter with him. So why is it, then, that her internal monologue sounds like it’s coming from a college frat boy? Artemis is narrated from her perspective, adding commentary as events happen. Having to read it was easily the most painful part of this book. It’s clear Weir intended for her to seem somewhat immature and rebellious, but he went way overboard. If she hadn’t mentioned her age, I would have thought she was a teenager. The most frustrating part was that she seemed to have a compulsive urge add some sort of sex joke at least every two pages. Just. No. If the blowjob jokes had been even cut to half, this book would have been much more enjoyable.
Jazz aside, the supporting cast didn’t fare much better. To me, they all felt flat and uninteresting, some to the point of being out of character. Richest guy on the moon who’s probably a shady businessman? Greets Jazz like an old friend instead of the delivery woman she is and treats her just as casually. Hong Kong businessman visiting for a couple days? Emails sound like a businessman, IRL speech sounds like a distressed American teenager. Brazilian woman in her 60s? “Hold a moment. I don’t explain myself to you. You explain yourself to me!” Yeah. Frankly, most of the dialog felt just as cringey and cliche. It was almost as though I was reading someone’s attempt tried to emulate people talking to each other, but instead fell straight bottom of the uncanny valley of dialog.
I didn’t care much for the plot either. The first half of Artemis is portrayed as a heist, but the execution felt mediocre. Jazz’s goal is to destroy a couple mining robots OUTSIDE of Artemis for various nefarious reasons. The premise sounds interesting. However, I refuse to believe the prep work for such an important project ON THE MOON would take only two days. Firstly, she spends less than an hour examining a dummy robot for weak points, plays 20 questions with the guy that bought it (not the engineer), and already has a way to destroy it? What? That’s an insult to the engineers who designed these bots. Then, she successfully designs a circuit board, something she’s never done before, based on a couple web tutorials, gets it fabricated in one day, and it works on the first try? Ha. As if. Gather the rest of the materials was clever, I’ll grant, but the set-up and planning needed should have taken far longer.
In the second half, the stakes are raised and Jazz has to learn to cooperate with people. What was frustrating, however, that utter lack of tension. Anywhere. Jazz is constantly making (sex) jokes. If she’s teaming up with other people, they’re bantering regardless of location or activity. There was only one time, at the very end, where I actually thought something bad could happen.
Overall, this book was a struggle to get through. It was never to a point that I considering DNFing, but it wasn’t great either. I would give this book 2 stars, but the awesome science warranted an extra star. I give this book 3 stars.
I recieved an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an open and honest review.