I’ve just finished reading Artemis, which is Andy Weir’s second book, the first being The Martian which I loved. Given that, any opinions I have on Artemis are going to be coloured by comparison to his first book.
I finished The Martian within a day. Given that I got it Friday lunchtime, and despite working and gaming for most of the afternoon and evening I still found time to finish it by the follow morning. I used to read books this quickly all the time, but lack of time and enthusiasm over the past decade or so has meant that this speed of reading is very rare for me now.
Artemis took me a couple of months to read, which is more inline with my current reading habits, so it didn’t grab me nearly as much as The Martian did. Whilst The Martian was very much man versus nature, Artemis is a lot more complicated in that the protagonist Jazz is living in a complex society on the Moon, and is mostly dealing with people. It’s not really until the end that the cascade of chaos and clever solutions she needs to come up with to fix things comes to the fore.
Whilst The Martian was really an excuse to play with hard science, Artemis came across as much more about the people. Fortunately, Andy Weir can write interesting characters. Unfortunately, I found that the first two thirds of the book wasn’t quite interesting enough to make me sit down and read chapter after chapter. I enjoyed it, but there were always other things to do instead of reading. The final third I finished reasonably quickly however, as I finally got to the point of wanting to know what happened next.
Overall, it was a pretty good book, with some nice ideas about the Moon base that Jazz lived in along with its culture and physical properties. My inability to really get into it is as much me as it is the book – I have too many distractions at the moment that I find it hard to concentrate on reading, especially fiction.
The biggest disappointment though was the ending, and I’ve deliberately left these comments to the end because it contains spoilers. So, spoilers ahead…
Jazz blows up some very expensive machinery, blows up a major industrial complex, almost kills the entire population of the base, gets caught doing so, but somehow gets away with a slap on the wrist. How is she going to get away with this? was one of my biggest thoughts as the book headed towards its conclusion, and I found myself completely unconvinced by the result. Possibly Andy Weir had written himself into a corner by that point and couldn’t find a way out, but it was disappointing and left me with a general feeling of the end being a cop out.