If you loved The Martian, as I did, you have been waiting for Andy Weir's next book. No one else does exactly his sassy, Capra-esque, hard science thing. I wanted more of The Martian, but I'll also admit that I didn't have a lot of hope that I would get much more than a rehash of the same thing that worked so well the first time. I was eager, but I can't say that I was optimistic.
But I was wrong! Artemis was so much fun, and I won't say it didn't have a lot in common with his breakout book, but it's definitely not treading the same ground. If I say to you, "imagine Andy Weir wrote a heist novel on the moon," you will be able to picture Artemis. If what you picture sounds like fun, well, you're into a treat, my friend.
Jazz Bashara lives in a closet on the moon. Most people do--square footage is expensive. But her life is going all right--she's got her little private bunk, her courier job, her local watering hole. She's even got a solid side gig (well, main gig, really) as a smuggler--Artemis, the moon's only city, doesn't have a lot of rules, but the ones it does have are somewhat strict about things like cigars.
Jazz is a rough-around-the-edges underachiever, a supergenius (natch) who never finished school because of a series of skeevy boyfriends and a streak of sheer stubbornness. She's mostly estranged from her father and she's pissed at a lot of people--most of the characters we meet in the first quarter of the book are people she's annoyed with for one reason or another.
When an opportunity to make a fortune for one day of (illegal) work falls into her lap, she jumps on it and the caper is on. She needs to sabotage some equipment that's outside Artemis's protective bubble. Here begins the science, as Andy Weir does what he does best, figuring out just what the failsafes and equipment in a place like Artemis might look like, and how a supergenius might sabotage them. Of course, things don't go smoothly (what heist does?) and Jazz finds friends and allies along the way as she heads in the direction of saving the day.
I loved that there was a big cast of characters and that the relationships in Jazz's life were a big part of the book. I wasn't really sure Weir could pull it off, but it's heartwarming. Admittedly, it's not high-level emotional arc or characterization going on here, and the prose is the complete opposite of purple (green prose? is that a thing?). But I liked Jazz the way I liked Mark Watney, and I loved that I got to see her argue and grouch at people, ask for favors and figure things out and trick people and be tricked.
Lately I've been pretty careful with male authors writing female characters, but I haven't got much fault to find here--mostly because there isn't a lot of sex or gender here at all. I mean, Jazz is a woman, and she talks about how good-looking some men are (which is kind of stilted but not distracting), but mostly, Jazz is just a person, and she's convincing as such. She's foul-mouthed and irritable and stubborn as hell, which serves her well--Weir is not trying to write "woman," but rather lets her be who she is.
I loved this book. It was so much fun. There were big laughs and low-gravity fight scenes and complicated science explanations and life-or-death ticking clocks. It's not for everyone, but if you liked The Martian, you want to read this.
(I got a copy of this book for free from Netgalley for an honest review.)