I’ve been on a real sci-fi book binge recently, and after finishing off James S.A. Corey’s ‘The Expanse‘ series (big fan), I moved on to Andy Weir’s ‘Artemis‘ with high expectations following The Martian. (I’ve only seen the movie, not read the book so take my comparisons between the two with a grain of salt!)
This review doesn’t reveal very much about the books plot so spoilers aren’t much of a problem.
So overall, I thought this book was fairly good; the setting is convincing, the plot is intriguing and fits well to the lunar setting, and Weir’s sciencey nerd stuff spread throughout is well researched and interesting. But there’s a lot of significant issues that prevented this book from being a lot better.
This ‘sciency nerd stuff’ is what Andy Weir is known for, and is what helped make The Martian such a success – it seemed almost like a biopic film rather than fiction! Explaining all the sciency bits is great when it adds to the story; in The Martian, I found this to be unique and a great addition to the story; adding to Mark Watney’s character as this space-MacGyver, using what little resources he had to survive.
In Artemis, Weir takes this up to 11 – everything is explained, from how the oxygen is produced to how the showers work on the Moon. There’s even some economic science explained as to the economic viability of a Moon colony. While these gratuitous explanations satisfied the nerdy part of me, I did find it to be rather tiring in bits that had no relevance to the plot whatsoever; especially as some dialogue existed with no other clear purpose than to shove some extra science in the book.
My next point about Artemis is about the characters. The protagonist, Jazz, is a 26 year old woman who has lived on the Moon all her life. Many other reviewers found her character to be too similar to Mark Watney, which I also found true; the wisecracking jokes, the creative engineering ingenuity. I think Weir really fell flat in writing a female protagonist though – it’s constantly reminded that she is a female in awkward, shoehorned ways. There’s a really, really weird plot point about a reusable condom??? Given to Jazz to test because apparently she is promiscuous?? I suppose the goal of this was to show that Jazz is known throughout the colony as being promiscuous in a funny way, while introducing sexual tension with the character who gave it to her, but all it did was make me cringe every time it was mentioned.
Anyway, problems aside, it’s quite a fun read and if you’re into nerdy sciency stuff and how a moon colony might realistically work, then this might be up your alley. More than anything, I think a movie adaptation of this book isn’t unlikely after the success of The Martian – and in my opinion it has the potential to be visually exciting and improve on the book’s shortfalls!