Book Review: Artemis



I was always going to, I know I was. It was one of my most anticipated reads of last year for a reason. A HEIST ON THE MOON, GUYS. I am so glad it didn’t disappoint. I am less glad that it stole my Sunday, which was the first day in ages that the skies were blue and probably I should have been outdoors, and not curled under a blanket all day reading but whatever. I have no regrets. Isn’t it the best ever when you’re super excited for a book and when you finally read it you LOVE it? For sure it is.

I haven’t read The Martian, or seen the film, (although it did almost move my main squeeze to tears on a plane the other year) so I had no idea what Andy Weir’s writing style was like, or what to expect from this book at all, all I knew was that it featured a kick ass female lead, a city on the moon and some kind of heist. I was so there for it.

And I couldn’t put it down.

It’s about a girl called Jazz. I say girl, she’s 26. Whatever though, I’m 34 and I still refer to myself as a girl so let’s not nit-pick too much here. Anyhow. Jazz has lived in Artemis AKA the only city on the moon since she was 6. She’s a criminal and whilst her legitimate job is basically being a courier, she makes the bulk of her money as a smuggler. She’s fallen out with her Dad, her boyfriend turned out to be gay and left her for her best friend and she’s s bit skint. Living on the moon is not a dream.
She’s all about the money is Jazz, she just wants to make the big bucks  - or slugs, that’s the currency on the moon – so when the rich dude she smuggles cigars for offers her the chance to make a ridic amount of money doing a very risky job that is absolutely not smuggling contraband and absolutely is out of her comfort zone, it takes her approximately 0.3 seconds to say yes.

It’s very science-y and very science fiction-y but take this from a girl who has absolutely not got any kind of a scientific brain whatsoever, you are not blinded by it or confused by it, or even aware that in real life you would have no interest in it whatsoever. You are interested and it all makes sense and the things that don’t are explained in a not at all patronising way and it’s just excellent. It’s not in your face and it’s not intellectual or hard work and actually you come away from it kind of feeling like you totally get how Artemis could work.

So Jazz takes on this high risk job and things do not go to plan – when do they ever – and she opens this whole can of worms and stumbles upon this massive thing that she probably wishes she’d never stumbled upon and it all gets very messy very quickly and suddenly she potentially has seconds to save the moon and you’re just turning page after page after page because you have been totally sucked in.

I’ve read some reviews that took issue with the story, with Jazz’s voice, with the thing as a whole, BUT! I liked this book.  I liked Jazz, I found her to be so so interesting for a lot of the same reasons that some of the less positive reviews found problematic.  I liked her ‘do no harm but take no shit’ attitude, (maybe because that’s my mantra and I wear it round my neck every day) I liked her independence, her brains and her courage and her sometimes lewd sense of humour. She felt real to me, a girl who has had to figure out how to fend for herself, and is doing the best she can. She’s a massive jerk, but I liked her. Also she’s a female Saudi not practising Muslim which is such an important step away from White American Hero and whilst granted Weir doesn’t always get this right and perhaps could have explored that whole side to Jazz in a little more depth, it still felt like A Good Thing to me; I found her fascinating and incredibly relatable. Yeah she’s flawed and yeah she’s a little cringeworthy at times and sure occasionally I was a little bit ‘really Mr. Weir, you’re going there?’ and she might not have been perfect, or even perfectly written but for the most part I was just there, in her head and loving it.  So Jazz is great and there’s a strong cast of supporting characters also and generally I found myself just hooked.

I would perhaps – as a side note – have liked some more background – Artemis is run by Kenyans and that could have been an excellent side story and I find myself fascinated by the ins and outs but it’s glossed over and then also there’s this thread running through the book of Jazz’s emails to her Kenyan pen pal: again more background to that would have been excellent because sometimes it just felt like a convenient link but that’s just me. I was sucked into this world and when I get sucked in like that, I just want more more more all the time. I am fascinated by world-building and fascinated by relationships and I always want more of the stories I love so *shrug* - I would have devoured more of both of those things.
Talking about world-building though, Weir nails it with Artemis – it’s fully-realised and well thought out and I was convinced, entirely. I mean some aspects were iffy, but just because I didn’t agree with them doesn’t mean I didn’t believe in them if that makes sense. It might not be how I think it should happen but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t convinced it could happen and the rest of it was excellent, the society, the layout of the city, the economy, the science, all of it. I mean if somebody told me that Artemis was actually a thing, then it would not take much to convince me it was true – I feel like Andy Weir knows his stuff here. I feel like he’s really thought this out.

I do not think this is a great literary masterpiece I’M SORRY.
I do however think it’s a hell of a read, and sometimes all I want is a hell of a read. It’s fun and it’s fast paced and exciting and interesting and I couldn’t stop reading it. I didn’t stop reading it. I didn’t eat on Sunday. I woke up and I started reading and I didn’t stop reading til I’d finished it and then I wished it was longer and you know, not all the books in the world have to be literary masterpieces and not all the books in the world have to carry important messages; sometimes a book just needs to be a good read, a bit of escapism and this book is that and when people ask me what I think they should read then for a while I will be saying this. It’s SO MUCH FUN.

 and I am totally going to read The Martian