Okay, so, luckily I read some mediocre reviews of this before starting it and I adjusted my expectations accordingly. I was way too pumped for this book, and frankly, my expectations for it were unrealistically high. Books that you ALL CAPS LOVE don’t come along that often, and the chances that an author will deliver a second one, particularly after the first was a debut novel, aren’t super high. I ALL CAPS LOVED The Martian, but I just had a pretty good time with this book.
Artemis is a caper/heist story set on the first colony city on the Moon. We follow Jazz Bashara, a smuggler who has lived on the moon for most of her life. Jazz is kind of a screw-up. She’s very intelligent, but a rebellious streak in her youth set her on the wrong path. Now she’s determined to earn (or steal, or con) enough money to live in style (limited space means living quarters are very very small in Artemis for someone without much income). Jazz is a bit of a tough character to like. She’s brash, emotionally reserved, and she has a juvenile sense of humor. (A lot of this can be put at the feet of Weir, who has admitted in interviews that characterization is not his strong suit.) And I will be honest, without the benefit of listening to Rosario Dawson bringing her to life, I’m not sure I would have cared much for Jazz, but Dawson does an admirable job humanizing her, and makes a lot of the terrible jokes more bearable.
The first half was just okay, but by about the mid-point, I was hooked. If characterization is his weak spot, then Weir has a knack for other things, like creating believable tension (especially using all his mad science knowledge), and he really is quite good at plot twists and turns as well. I also loved the way that Weir conceptualized the city on the moon, especially since its worldbuilding was actually part of the plot.
I’m not positive I would have felt exactly the same, though, if I hadn’t done the audiobook. I originally picked it up as a way to distance Weir’s authorial voice from Mark Watney (as I feel Watney is in large part made up of pieces of Weir), but it turned out to be a good idea anyway, as previously mentioned, re: Jazz and her personality.
[3.5 stars, rounded up for Rosario Dawson]