Saturday, April 7, 2018

#11 [2018/CBR10] "Artemis" by Andy Weir

I was very excited to pick up Artemis (2017) by Andy Weir because I loved his first book, The Martian, even though science fiction isn't normally my thing. The combination of the life and death struggle, the realistic science, and the funny and smart protagonist was fantastic. It was one of my favorite books of the year. However, Artemis did not hold up to my high expectations.

Jasmine Bashara has been living on Artemis, a colony on the moon, since she was six years old. Now in her twenties, working as a porter and a sometimes smuggler, she is struggling to make enough money to better her circumstances. When a wealthy businessman makes her an offer of one million in moon currency to sabotage a rival company, she takes the offer. When it doesn't go exactly according to plan, and people start getting killed, Jazz realizes she's gotten herself into much more than she expected.

I really wanted to like Artemis, so I'll start with the positives. Artemis is a very interesting setting, and a well-imagined colony. I liked the details that made Artemis feel like a real place. Also, the book's first scene really sucks you into the novel.

Unfortunately, my main problem with the book is a big problem. I found Jazz to be both unrealistic and unlikable. I didn't like and couldn't understand her attitude. She was impressively smart and supposedly had strong ethical standards, but she has no problem destroying millions of dollars of another company's equipment for money.

***SPOILERS*** And even though she's supposedly genius-level smart, she almost kills the entire colony. Yes, it's good that she tries to save them, but everything she was doing was stupidly risky. There are many ways to get out of a bad contract that doesn't involve messing with the main oxygen supply to the colony. Also, if you've lived in the same place for almost twenty years, with only about 2,000 other people, wouldn't you still get recognized if you dressed up "in disguise" as a hooker? ***END SPOILERS***

I'm not sure if Weir did this on purpose, but it was refreshing to see a book with some diverse characters. Weir imagines the moon as an amalgam of people from many different countries from Earth. It doesn't make much difference to the story, but it's something. I would also appreciate that he wrote a book with a female protagonist if I liked her more. However, besides being smart and a creative problem solver, she was something of a cliche. She read gossip magazines and was really, really mad that her ex-boyfriend had turned out to be gay and slept with her best friend. Her emotional maturity was about a 1. It reminded me of a post I recently saw (on Facebook--Cannonball Read, I think) about some male authors writing women characters poorly. It's like Weir thought, what should I do with my female protagonist? Oh, I know, I'll dress her up as a hooker and have her talk about how hot she is.

In the end, I could not connect emotionally to the characters or the story line. The characters all felt one-dimensional and unsupported. The plot often either had not enough detail, or something that didn't feel right, and it continuously kicked me out of the story. Also, since the whole plot seemed to be Jazz's fault, I couldn't really get behind her. This was a sad disappointment for me.

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