Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Artemis is the second novel from Andy Weir (The Martian). It will be published on Nov. 14, but I received a free e-book courtesy of Crown Publishing via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. It was a quick read, somewhat entertaining, but not as good as his first book. It is set on the moon, approximately 50-60 years in the future. There are comments about Apollo 11 being about 100 years in the past. Artemis is the one and only colonizing effort, comprised of a grouping of five habitat domes within Mare Tranquillitatis, as well as other structures close by; the Apollo 11 Museum and Visitor's Center, a nuclear reactor station, and a factory which mines for aluminum, silicon, and other ores, and which as a by-product furnishes Artemis with breathable oxygen. I know Weir consulted with scientists for both his books, so I have to accept most of the descriptions of chemical and mechanical processes, but there are times when the explanations are verbose and distracting.
The major faults are with characterization and illogical plot. It's told in first-person, the narrator being Jasmine "Jazz" Bashara, a twenty-something woman, born in Saudi Arabia, a resident of the moon since she was six. She has a very strained relationship with her father, a welder. Her nominal job is as a porter, picking up freight at the port and delivering it to individuals or companies in Artemis, as well as free-lance odd jobs. What she does for most of her money is smuggling. This is the first part of the plot that makes little sense. Artemis has a limited security force, a mostly libertarian vibe for social conduct, with the usual sentence for misbehavior being deportation to the person's home country on Earth, or in the case of major infractions, possibly the home country of the victim for criminal prosecution. It is established early that Jazz's activities are well known, so it doesn't make sense she hadn't been shipped Earthside long ago. It also doesn't make sense that a rich industrialist would contract with her to sabotage the mining facility. Surely he could have found someone or some group with more resources for the job. Surely he or Jazz could have anticipated a negative impact of sabotaging the source of the colony's oxygen supply.
Jazz is smart, resourceful, able to analyze a situation and figure out the methods and tools needed to carry out an operation. She's also not always able to anticipate every contingency. The job doesn't go smoothly, Jazz and the person who hired her are put in jeopardy, and the mining company has multiple resources for defense and revenge. The illogicality continues, with Jazz able to convince several others, including her father, who loves her but hates her illegal activities, to support her in one more effort of sabotage. I can understand the shy electronics genuis helping out, since it is clear he would dearly love to get into her pants, but everyone else involved is someone she has wronged in the past (including her father). Why would they risk their jobs, reputations, their very lives, for someone who is so self-centered and callous? Why, after all she does to put everyone else in harm's way, is she forgiven and allowed to stay in Artemis? I don't know, and I don't care to think about it any more. Not recommended.
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