Review: Artemis by Andy Weir

Title: Artemis
Author: Andy Weir
Rating: ★½
Summary: 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.


Artemis was disappointing, to say the least. The Martian was a 5-star read for me, so I went into this book with high expectations. Unfortunately, there were just too many hang-ups and eye-rolling to make the novel more than a bleh for me.

The protagonist, Jazz, felt like a cardboard cutout of a female character, stripped of a multi-faceted personality and, instead, given what Weir thinks a female ought to possess in order to fit her surroundings. (Or perhaps he just transplanted his thirty-something, white, cis, heterosexual fictional stand-in, Mark Watney, into the body of a twenty-something Arab. Who knows.) Her understanding of the world has stalled at puberty, and she comes off completely self-centered, her actions and motivations before we meet her cringy to read. (Her main impetus for taking over the heist is to repay her father for an accident she caused; Jazz has apparently completely ignored him for seven years among of a population of only a few thousand  and is certain his wants and needs have stayed static in the intervening half-decade. Hey Jazz, why don’t you just, I don’t know, talk to him??)

The plot itself is a jumble of a heist but also a murder mystery, with spots of romance thrown in for good measure. Except it’s also a science fiction novel… I guess? Weir has Jazz sarcastically overexplain her actions, but it’s not as quirky as Mark running through how he’s going to survive on an inhospitable planet; it’s just grating. I suppose that Weir wanted all of his science to be accurate, but I was already on board with humans living on the moon: I didn’t also need Weir to treat his lunar base as potential science fact. (As if, in the future, scientists would read this book and go, “ooh good idea”?) In the end, he never quite found a balance between underexplaining the economic, cultural, and social facets of Artemis’s social construction and then overexplaining the physical.

Artemis had a good outline but needed too many changes for me to actually enjoy it. Maybe if Jazz had been appropriately aged to match her personality, or she’d been explicitly written as a white male instead of a brown female. Maybe if there’d been one solid plot instead of two and a half meh ones, or if the book didn’t come off as a half-assed attempt to replicate The Martian‘s success without understanding why it succeeded in the first place. (Um, The Hangover 2??) Maybe if every character didn’t come off as a checkbox next to a diversity hire so that no one could fault Weir for only writing about able-bodied white people in space.

Or maybe it was all the welding.

Top Ten: Authors I Read for the First Time in 2015

logo-TopTenTuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme was authors I read for the first time in 2015.

Some of these authors had been on my radar before the start of the year, and then some of them popped up along with whatever book I ultimately read! (I included the titles that got me hooked as well.)

  1. Amy Poehler (Yes Please)
  2. Andy Weir (The Martian)
  3. Aziz Ansari (Modern Romance)
  4. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (We Should All Be Feminists)
  5. Emily St. John Mandel (Station Eleven)
  6. G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal; Vol. 2: Generation Why; Vol. 3: Crushed; and Vol. 4: Last Days)
  7. Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan (The Royal We)
  8. Mindy Kaling (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and Why Not Me?)
  9. Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy and Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max)
  10. Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist)

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

TheMartianTitle: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Rating: ★★★★★
Summary: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive. As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.


If it weren’t for the big-budget movie starring Matt Damon that just came out*, I don’t think Andy Weir’s The Martian would be flying off the shelves as much as it has – but that’s kind of a shame, really, because it’s super (ridiculously) good. And not just good in a hard sci-fi kind of way where you’re already kind of enthralled by NASA and interested in Mars and always maybe wanted to be an astronaut when you grew up. It’s good in the way a spy thriller is good or an adventure story is good – good where there’s a clear good guy vs. bad guy thing going on and there’s a nail-biting chase scene (or three) and you’re not JUST rooting for the bad guy to fail, you’re actually rooting for the good guy to win.

For me, books like The Martian don’t come around very often: books that make me bark out peals of laughter, put off watching TV (admittedly, my favorite thing to do), and keep me up way past my bedtime so that I can finish just one more paragraph (okay, fifteen). A book that fills my mind so that the seconds tick by into minutes, fifteen minutes roll into thirty, and one hour somehow becomes four… hours where I’m sitting and then lounging and then stretching, all to feed the insatiable need of omg what is happening i need to know how this ends. (If I could somehow read at the edge of my seat then that’s what I was doing for, like, ninety percent of this book.) I knew that I would enjoy The Martian, but I didn’t anticipate just how much this book was going to win me over. (Kind of how Netflix thinks I’ll rate a Gritty Crime Drama with an Engaging Female Lead four stars and I’m like, “Why would I watch that, Netflix?” and then I watch it and give it four stars. (Because Netflix just knows, okay??? So let’s pretend that I’m Netflix and I just know.))

You don’t need to know a whole lot about this book before going in – namely because Weir’s fearless protagonist Mark Watney spells it out in literally the first chapter of the book – but I suppose it’s helpful to know that Watney is an astronaut presumed dead and, as a result, left stranded on Mars. So, basically, the entire book is various forms of “Way to go, Mark!” and “Have fun, Mark!” and “So glad you’re not dead, Mark!” except Mark is saying this all to himself because he’s the only human being on an entire freaking planet and he doesn’t even have a robot for company.

Basically, The Martian is sarcastic and smart and nail-biting and laugh-out-loud funny and I wish you would just read it already because this review is turning out useless. (You’ll like it, though, I swear.)

* Everybody’s Favorite Scientist™ Neil deGrasse Tyson actually shot a (real) promo for the (real) film’s (fake) Ares 3 mission, (theoretically) taped for his (real) program Star Talk. META.