Sunday, December 10, 2017

Book Review of "Artemis - by Andy Weir"

"Artemis" by Andy Weir sadly turns out to be "just meh". If your first book was "The Martian" - by far one of the most entertaining, funny and popular Science Fiction books in the last few years - then any book that follows it was always going to be subjected to harsh scrutiny and unfair comparisons. The two books can not and should not be compared - the Martian was a survival story and Artemis is sort-of, kind-of a heist story. But with that being said, "Artemis" doesn't hold up on its own. It is not necessarily "bad" - but it is remarkably average. The Martian made me a fanboy of Andy Weir and I so very much wanted Artemis to turn out great but alas! Well, it is what it is.

The story takes place in near future at a time when a full fledged city (called Artemis) is established on the Moon. In typical Andy Weir fashion, the city is
described wonderfully, the author paints a perfect picture of the environment, the geo-political situation, the "economics" of a truly international Moon currency and the hardcore science that goes into making a functioning city sustain on the Moon (it is fascinating how he describes the way in which Oxygen is generated and provided for all the city residents for example). Weirdly, things start to go south once all of this setup is done and the actual story starts and the characters are introduced.

The protagonist is "Jasmine Bashara" (or Jazz as she is called by other characters) who - in the most unimaginative way - has the same exact personality as Mark Watney from the Martian - but with a vocabulary of a horny teenage boy. She is smart and creative yes - but only when faced with certain death, in all other cases she just comes across as a lazy person hellbent on finding easy ways to make money. I know these are sort of the unwritten must-have traits for the protagonist of your heist story, but here, it just makes Jazz cringeworthy to be honest. There are a handful of other characters - no one stands out particularly.

Andy Weir seems to go out of his way to ensure his characters are of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds - which is good. Jazz is a Saudi National for example. Story has a gay person playing a very important role, characters are from different nationalities and religions. But the thing is, all characters speak and interact with each other as though they are all American (and we have been told explicitly that they are not). Maybe I am being too much critical, but all of this just comes across as the author showcasing diversity for diversity's sake.

Anyhoo, with all of this said and done, Artemis is not a bad book - just not a good one. Its ok. You will be entertained in parts, kind of frustrated in parts - but overall it is "fine". 3/5 from me.

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