I wanted to like this book, but...
Revisado en los Estados Unidos 🇺🇸 el 14 de febrero de 2022
I really wanted to like this book. I read the opening sample given here, and was intrigued enough to buy the book. I bought it from one of the "used book store" listings here, and I'm glad I bought the book this way. If I'd paid full price, at the end of the story, I'd think I overpaid for what I'd just read.
The Martian set a very high standard for Andy Weir. Or, it's a tough act to follow. Artemis doesn't get close to matching The Martian. Period.
There is the "science drives the plot" element seen in The Martian. In Artemis, I think it becomes a case where some piece of technology, or some science fact, suggests where the plot should go, not the plot wants to go in some direction, and there's scientific information to support that choice.
One piece of science connected to basic description of Artemis completely baffles me. The atmosphere there is low pressure oxygen. This in spite of welding, sparking, illicit smoking going on. IIRC the Apollo 1 catastrophe began with a spark in a low pressure, oxygen rich atmosphere. What part of the explanation of Artemis' atmosphere did I sleep through?
Economics plays a significant part of the later part of the story. (no spoiler here -->) At one point, Artemis, the lunar city/colony, is described as a giant Ponzi scheme. It took some thought to work out the reasoning behind that statement (although, once understood, it makes sense). If a "Ponzi scheme" sounds like something from Happy Days, parts of the story will probably be hard sledding.
Andy Weir set himself a significant challenge in writing the story from a female point of view. Having a personal "work in progress" that started with "let me see if I can write a story from a female point of view", I have some sense of how challenging that is for a male writer.
The few people, my wife included, who read pieces of the novel, said, "You? Write as a female? Hah! Never going to happen!". I never got back a "no woman would ever do that", or "yeah, that makes sense". I wonder what input Andy Weir got from the women he listed. OK, enough about that.
The start of the story, looked good in the excerpt, turned into "get on with it, do something that matters!". The story wanders around, trying to lay out a foundation for the ending, but doesn't move the story in the process. Most of the story is that way. Elements move in one direction, then move in another direction, and in yet another direction, while the overall story takes too much time to advance.
Usually, when I start a book that's caught my attention, I tend to binge on the book. At one point I set Artemis down, and didn't feel a need to immediately pick it up again. Not a good sign...
I like The Martian. Project Hail Mary (released after Artemis) got four stars (see my review there). Artemis lags far behind the two other books.
Overall, would I recommend this book to someone interested in science fiction with a strong amount of science fact? I guess so.
SPOILER ALERT!!! SPOILER ALERT!!! SPOILER ALERT!!! SPOILER ALERT!!! SPOILER ALERT!!!
Jazz... I'd like to like her, but there's far too much "smartass" to really warm up to. There are some points, notably with her father, that do move Jazz towards being relatable. Her behavior with Dale and Svoboda (read the book to know who they are) is far too "smartass".
The interactions with Rudy (Artemis' constable) don't hold together - if this is so, than that must follow, but instead the interaction, again, wanders around. Why does Administrator Ngugi often refer to Jazz as "dear". It's like a king or queen calling a subject "pal" or "dear". It doesn't hold together.
Why, why, why does Svoboda invent a technological condom(!)? Does it save the day for Artemis? No. Is it a running joke? Vaguely. It's... "why are we spending time on this?".
"Lefty", the mob hitman, essentially materializes, with no back-story filling in "how did he get here in the first place".
The handling of the story about Jazz and Kelvin is... each message exchange just doesn't fit into how the story's running. At the end of the book, the Jazz/Kelvin messages, and the main story line meet, but it takes a long time to get there. The basic plot line of Jazz and Kelvin is, in some regards, handled better than the main plot line.
A plot point that had my "Oh, really, c'mon, that doesn't make sense" alarm ringing is Trond's giving Jazz the job of destroying four autonomous ore harvesters. The "why" sort of makes sense, maybe, the "who" and "how"? Doesn't make sense or lacks plausibility. A) this plot element is too early in the story, B) it's far too "our plucky 'smartass' gal is going to take a walk across the moon to blow the harvesters up with some clever science factoids". The story unravels from there. The story does get pulled back together, mostly, later. The "Jazz blows up stuff" doesn't really work.
One last point that bugs me. Through an unfortunate set of events and circumstances, far too "deus ex machina", Artemis' atmosphere is contaminated with chloroform. Of course there are only X minutes to save Artemis. After "The Nap", it's reported that nobody died, and there were only a few cardiac cases, all now OK, but need watching. Really???
H U G E S P O I L E R ! !
Points to Jazz for Taking A Bullet for Artemis. Why am I not surprised that Science saves her, even though she was, for three minutes, on the moon's surface without a suit. The book's like that.
There's a lot more I could say (I'm told it's one of my better traits NOT), but I think the above supports my conclusion that Artemis is just not a book with a compelling story, and characters worth wanting to know more about. (Exception: Billy the bartender- what's his story? It's probably a good one.)
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