I love creative people. I mean, a heist plot on the moon? I never would have thought of that. Not to mention that the science and math research needed in order to actually sell the idea.
Andy Weir, God bless you for dumbing down the science well enough for me to understand.
Like his first book, The Martian, Weir seamlessly integrates the technical know-how for his heist into Artemis. Some of it got bogged down and muddled, especially on the welding. But given that the welding was crucial to the plot, I can forgive it. That being said, I walked away feeling like I could pull off a heist while on the moon. His ability to instill such confidence of understanding in the reader is, in my opinion, one of Weir’s greatest strengths as a writer. We saw it with Mark Watney in The Martian and we see that again with Jazz in Artemis.
Ah, Jazz. Unlike other reviews I’ve read, I enjoyed her characterization. It did feel like Mark Watney at some points, with his humor bleeding through to Jazz’s, but I still felt they were different characters. After all, if you’re writing about heroes fighting against all odds in hostile environments, there tends to be overlap. Plenty of people deal with problems by employing humor. I do. Often at inappropriate times. It’s a coping mechanism, and while I can see the faults in both of Weir’s main characters utilizing it, I can also see how circumstances might have molded these characters similarly in some instances.
Jazz, if you haven’t read the book, does tend to lean toward self-deprecation of her sex life and her body. She regards both with a cavalier attitude in many instances, like, as other reviewers have mentioned, a twelve-year-old boy. I, personally, think this is perfectly fine. My personal love for comic books, video games, soda, and pizza align more with a twelve-year-old-boy than the late-twenties woman that I am. Not all women are going to look at sex the same way I am, hence different characters. That being said, she does go for the sex joke a lot throughout the story, oftentimes with the reader more than other characters. So if sex offends you, avert your eyes because Jazz doesn’t let up throughout the entirety of the story.
For me, the story really hit its stride way later than I thought it would. Once the heist actually starts, we’re golden, but it takes some buildup to get there. That’s understandable given the plot and necessary character build-up, but I felt like it could have been reworked for a smoother ride. I wondered if maybe Weir was going for too much: Jason Bourne level on-the-run scenarios, an Ocean’s 11 type of heist, crime syndicates, science, MacGyver, and corporate espionage all added with the usual father-daughter strained dynamic and potential romance that every novel needs. While on the moon. It just felt like too much sometimes. And the subplot with the condom (yes, you read that right) didn’t even conclude. I felt like Weir bit off more than he could chew with how short this novel was.
I did enjoy the story. I don’t regret the time I put into it. But it didn’t hook my attention until about two-thirds through. I’d put it down, leave it for a few days, and then come back because I hate leaving things unfinished. I enjoyed it while I did it, but I came to this book with the same level of intensity I do with exercising: I enjoy it while I do it, but it’s a pain to motivate me to get into the right mindset to actually do it. It certainly didn’t leave me in the same book-hangover mode that The Martian did, but I think that’s to be expected. On first projects, more time and attention is put in, and so, they’re better. Artemis wasn’t bad, but I’m not going to come back for a reread anytime soon.