ARC Review: “Artemis” by Andy Weir

WARNING: If you want to form your own opinion of Artemis, you might not want to read this review. If you would like to know what you’re wading into, go ahead and read on.

I really wanted to like this story.

My God, did I want to like this story. The Martian is one of my favorite books of all time, mostly because Andy Weir is a sarcastic and wonderful genius and Mark Watney is a fantastic character.

Unfortunately, Artemis displays very little of that great sarcasm and characterization.

In the book, “Artemis” is the name of the city on the moon where our main character, Jasmine Bashara, who goes by the name of Jazz, currently lives. She’s a rough and tumble street character who controls the majority of the smuggling in and out of the city. She has a few wealthy clients who will pay her an extreme amount of money in order to get their items (cigars, for example, which are outlawed because they’re flammable and you don’t wanna set anything on fire where there’s a surplus of pure oxygen).

In fact, let me just give you the synopsis from Amazon so I don’t mess this up:

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Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

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You good? All right.

Jazz Bashara is one of the most unpleasant characters I have ever had the misfortune to read about. I mean, I’ve read some books with pretty terrible writing, but Jazz isn’t just poorly written: she’s a mish-mash of every female hero rebel stereotype there is.

Jazz Bashara:

  • had a falling out with her father years ago
  • has slept around most of her life because she can’t find true love
  • has had a string of terribly abusive boyfriends in her past
  • is foul-mouthed
  • wants to do everything her way or no way

And I could keep the list going, but I don’t want to bore you. Weir attempts to give Jazz some backstory by saying she has a specific amount of money she’s working towards (just over $416,000 in Artemis-money), and for the majority of the book you believe you know what she’s saving up that money for. It was a twist to me at the end, admittedly, but I was proud of what she did with the money.

Jazz is irritating and obnoxious and I could not find myself feeling either sorrow or sympathy for her throughout the majority of the novel. She refers to her sexuality and appearance several times throughout the novel in an unnatural way. Since Weir is a dude, I’m chalking this up to “This guy has no idea how to write believable female characters from first-person perspective.” The female characters in The Martian were great. He just shows Jazz as an oversexualized being who talks likea cringy teenage guy. (Seriously, every time she opens her mouth, I cringed.)

In fact, a lot of the things she has to do throughout the novel really requires that you give her the benefit of the doubt. She is hired to dismantle the huge harvesters that supply the raw ore to the aluminum smelting plant, and of course that goes awry, and then everything is just in a downhill spiral from there.

My favorite part of the novel are the letters she writes every few chapters to her elementary school pen pal on Earth, Kevin. He has a lot of advice for her, and she has some advice for him, but I felt so bad for Kevin. Jazz is so clearly using him throughout their entire letter exchange, but at least he does get a percentage of their smuggling profits. I wish we’d had more of Kevin, instead of focusing on all the drama Jazz causes.

THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH CONTAINS A SLIGHT SPOILER. What I hated the MOST was that she spends the entire book saying she’ll never sleep with someone (although in much raunchier, NSFW terms than that), and then at the end SHE TOTALLY FALLS FOR HIM. INSTEAD OF FREAKING ALLOWING OUR HEROINE TO LIVE HER LIFE SOLO AND AS AN IRRITATING SMUGGLER, WE LEARN THAT SHE’S JUST GONNA GET INTO ANOTHER RELATIONSHIP. I hate that Jazz is reduced to the lowest of the low at the end, shoving in romance where she didn’t need to end up with anyone! SPOILER END.

This is, at its heart, a heist story, but it’s saddled with an incredibly unlikable narrator, which ruined the experience for me. I was expecting a narrator like Watney from The Martian, who was funny even in the face of danger. Instead, Jazz just gets more foul-mouthed and annoyingly “rebellious” as the book goes on.

There were some nice quotes throughout (which I’m not allowed to share with you because the book hasn’t been published yet and as such it hasn’t been finalized), but overall, this book fell far short of its expectations for me, which was such a disappointment.

I don’t know if Weir was trying to capitalize on the success of The Martian by rushing this one, or if he didn’t have as much help with this one as he did The Martian, but I finished this book feeling unsatisfied. The final chapter, in particular, really made me angry. If you’re going to write a heist story, or a story in general, and you’re going to focus on one person, at least make that person remotely likeable.

I give this book 3/5 stars. It’s okay. It’s relatively decent, if you can get past the aggravating main character. The story is interesting, even if you have to give it the suspension of disbelief at times. If you’re a die-hard fan of Andy Weir, I’d give it a shot. If you like heist stories, maybe give it a shot. If you don’t like seeing red every time the main character speaks, skip this book.

Worst of all, there were no potatoes. If they were mentioned at all, I must have missed it between anger fits at Jazz.

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This is my first ARC review, and I’m so sad it had to be for a book that didn’t live up to its expectations at all. (Sorry, y’all.)

Have you read Artemis from NetGalley?

Will this review keep you from reading it? Have I dashed all your hopes?

As always, keep reading (but maybe skip Artemis).

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