“Artemis” fails to meet stellar expectations

Published in 2011, Andy Weir’s first novel, “The Martian,” went viral, enjoying a level of success rarely experienced by books that were first self-published. Last month, he followed it up with his sophomore work, “Artemis,” which focuses on a heist. What sets “Artemis” apart, though, is that this heist happens on Artemis, a moonbase. The book, while as wonderfully detailed as “The Martian,” is more lacking than its predecessor when it comes to the protagonist and the plot.

Jazz Bashara is your average moon resident. She works a low-paying job only minorly supplemented by illegal activities. She’s going to go straight when getting her EVA certificate, she swears—except a technical malfunction stops her from successfully completing the run. Fortunately, a wealthy moon resident is willing to pay a hefty sum of money to steal a little something for him.

Fans of “The Martian” might appreciate Bashara’s snappy humor. But despite its wit, it was also a tad juvenile and seemed a bit out of touch with the incredibly smart characters surrounding her that were supposedly laughing at it. Also, despite supposedly being a woman in her mid-twenties, she reads far more like a teenage boy in terms of personality and temperament.

I was jarred out of the story several times when something seemed especially off in terms of characterization. Especially when matters of sexuality came up. The ‘lovable-s—-with-the-heart-of-gold’ is rarely a trope that works out well for women, and it works out even worse for Bashara, since she barely has a heart of gold.

Honestly, it was a bit dull. The heist is over about halfway through, meaning the rest was just about the fallout, which isn’t exactly page-turning. The science behind how a moonbase could exist and function is detailed and very much present, but it just did not flow well into the story.
I could recommend so many better books with the plot “a heist, but in space,” but “Artemis” has won the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award for science fiction. Make of that what you will.

Title: “Artemis”
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Crown
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars