Review: Artemis by Andy Weir

Publication Date: November 14, 2017

Jazz lives on Artemis, a colony on the moon. She makes her living by smuggling contraband from Earth to wealthy, discreet customers on Artemis.

When one of her usual customers asks her to work with him on a special job, she can't say no to the money she'll be getting. But soon, things turn dangerous on this small colony on the moon. As Jazz tries to fix the mess she's gotten herself into, she learns that what she knows about her beloved colony might not be entirely accurate.

Date Read: March 12, 2019

Rating: ★ ★ ★

This is the part where my reading buddy finds out that I finished this way after I was supposed to and told him to start with our next read anyways ( sorry, Grant).

At the beginning of this year, I agreed to start a buddy reading challenge with one of my host brothers. We each picked three books, and an agreed fourth book that we both wanted to read if we finished the first six before the end of the year. This was the first book my host brother chose, so we dove in at the beginning of January (and by that, I mean he started and finished it before I even started it).

Andy Weir is a new author to me. Most people know him from his first book, The Martian, which was a huge success both as a book and a movie. I never read that, so I had no idea what Weir was like as a writer before going into this. Getting into this book, I struggled with the writing style almost immediately. It took several pages for me to realize that the main character was a woman, and for the rest of the book, I remained unconvinced that Weir knew what women were like. Both Weir's voice and Jazz's voice as a main character were incredibly masculine, making it hard for me to settle into the book. I'm not sure what Weir thought women sounded like when they talked, but it definitely doesn't match up with my experiences of what women sound like.

It's one thing to write a female main character with a masculine voice, but it's another to write her in so masculine of a manner that she comes across as a man. The way she make sexual inferences, her comments about random things, and the way she thought about her surroundings and herself were so characteristically male. There were several comments within the book that no woman has ever thought, but they existed to prove to the reader that Jazz was a woman. I have never heard a woman dismay that she's built so perfectly that she could easily pass for a prostitute, or giving reasons why it's acceptable for her to giggle like a schoolgirl. The whole time I was reading, it just felt like I was reading a man's idea of what women must be like because they think certain things of women.

In line with the writing style, I really didn't like how the science of the book was explained. There's a lot in here that has to do with technology and science, which I don't usually struggle too hard to understand. Somehow, this book managed to make something that should be interesting into a topic that made me feel stupid when there were pages upon pages of explanation that didn't help me understand the plot or the setting any better. A clearer explanation could have been written with the same effect, rather than this super convoluted explanation that just makes Weir sound super knowledgable about something I don't really care about because he's mansplaining it to me.

There's also a lot to say about this plot. Jazz gets sucked into a scheme that's going to get her rich really quickly, but ends up getting her into huge trouble in the process. It not a new plot idea. This kind of story has been done countless times and it has a pretty straightforward formula. What I got was a lot less excitement that I wanted. The plot felt too riddled with science that we spent too much time explaining and too little of the actual events happening. If we condensed the explanations, it would probably save at least 40 pages of space. Yes, explaining the science behind things is necessary, and it's not a bad thing to give readers an idea of what's happening visually as far as the makeup of machines is concerned. But there's a line between that and over-explaining everything to the point where nothing that's happening is interesting anymore because the moment it gets interesting, explanations get in the way.

A romance was hinted at throughout the book, but it wasn't the romance I wanted or thought was well-plotted. It felt too scattered and there wasn't really a basis for it. This was a book that could have gone without a romance entirely, and I think it would have been better if there wasn't a romance. That being said, it's so slightly hinted at that it really does nothing for the plot until the very end, and that's why I think it could have been done away with entirely.

Pacing and character-wise, I was bored for a lot of the book. I thought that it could have been a lot more interesting for something that literally takes place on the moon. There was room for more excitement that didn't require science, and the characters could have been more developed. It took almost half the book for me to be able to tell two characters apart. And Jazz as a main character felt too much like Weir was trying to make his female audience relate to a woman in the STEM field who was also feminine and make his male audience find her sexy and appealing. There are better ways to make a female character appealing to both genders than this book's execution would have you believe.

The ending felt super abrupt and I thought that there was at least another chapter to properly wrap things up. In the end, things were too convenient and everything fell into place too quickly. I think it could have been done better. Well, the majority of the book could have been done better in general.

I didn't like Jazz at all. She was trying too hard to be a smart woman in a STEM field who acted like she didn't care, while also being a woman who was somehow so feminine that she had a reputation for sleeping around. In fact, portraying her as someone who slept around was something I really didn't appreciate. I was waiting for her to become more than whatever Weir thought women were, but that never came to be. In the end, I was more frustrated with her internal tangents, comments, and random sexual references that felt out of place.

None of the male characters were very memorable either. They all felt one-dimensional, with little to no character growth. In fact, of all the male characters in this book, I think only two of them had very minor development, and it was the two who needed the least development. The whole thing was strange and I didn't like struggling to tell them apart because they could easily all sound the same.

1.5 stars. I'm not sure if this means I'll never read The Martian, but for now, I can tell you that I don't like the way Weir writes women. He supposedly had women in his life go through the book so he could accurately portray a female voice, but it doesn't read like that happened at all. As far as recommendations go, I don't think it's really worth picking up.

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