Artemis by Andy Weir

Posted On 13 November 2017

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artemisI must confess that I requested and picked up a copy of Artemis with very little knowledge of what the book was about – I don’t think I even read the blurb to be honest because I enjoyed Andy Weir’s book The Martian so much that there was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to pick up his next piece of work.  I can genuinely say that Artemis doesn’t disappoint.  It’s a wonderful piece of storytelling with quite a thrilling plot, magnificent world building and bristling with sci fi goodness.

The story is set In Artemis the only city on the moon and the main protagonist is called Jazz.  Jazz is one of those characters that can be a bit impulsive and when she has a golden carrot waved under her nose she pretty much jumps at the offer.  Straight in she goes with both feet and not a care in the world, totally oblivious to the fact that she’s about to put her life in danger when she uncovers a twisted conspiracy that could have serious implications for all the other inhabitants.

Now, I had a really good time with this book but that’s not to say that I didn’t have some issues and I’m going to mention those first so that I can then finish with all the goodies.

My immediate thought when I first stated to read was that Jazz reminded me very much of Mark Watney, so much so that for the first few pages I didn’t realise that I was reading from a female perspective – now, that’s probably my own doing in all fairness but it did give me a bit of a jolt.  Added to that was Jazz’s continual quips – which at first I didn’t find as amusing as intended.  Again, this had a MW feel – and whilst I liked his commentary in The Martian to me it felt more natural given that he was by himself and was facing a very real life and death scenario.  I think basically I got off to the wrong start with Jazz when I first started reading and this made it more difficult for me to like her at first.  I usually like my characters flawed and Jazz definitely ticks the boxes on that score but the problem is, not that she makes mistakes, but she has a certain arrogance or lack of humility in admitting when she’s at fault.  Thankfully this is something that is addressed as the story progresses but at times she comes across as a bit petulant, she has this angst or anger going on which when you really drill down into the story seems to be without foundation.  The whole not speaking or seeing her dad is a prime example.  I’m not going to go into the whys and wherefores of what exactly happened but I felt for sure that he must have done something terrible to have alienated her so much.  Like I said though – she did grow on me and eventually I came to see that some of her attitude was more a defensive layer and that she probably put herself in a lot of ‘bad’ situations as a way of punishing herself.

So, that out of the way, to the positives of the story.

The plot itself is really intriguing and had me hooked very quickly.  I loved the way the storyline developed and the cunning way that the whole conspiracy was integral to the future well being of Artemis and it’s future operations.  I also thought that Artemis was really well drawn.  A fascinating city to read about that felt so well grounded and clearly with plenty of research not to mention intelligent ideas.  In fact that’s fairly symptomatic of the whole story – clearly Andy Weir does his work.  He doesn’t just write a flimsy outline and expect you to fill in the gaps and get on board with what he says – just because he says it – his ideas come across as credible, you can actually imagine yourself living in this City on the Moon, working and living in one of it’s poorer sectors or if you’re really lucky visiting as a tourist.

I loved that part of the story is told in the format of letters from a friend of Jazz’s who she has been corresponding with for many years.  I thought this showed a different side to Jazz and also helped to fill in some of her history.

And, finally, I loved the ending.  It seemed to be one of those conclusions where things keep going from bad to worse and I seemed to be saying in my head ‘No!’, NO! NOOOOOOO! more often than not.

Long story short, I found myself, in spite of a shaky start, being thoroughly entertained by Artemis.  I think I got off on the wrong foot but Weir managed to bring me round.  So, if like me you find yourself with a few issues as the story sets out my advice would be to press on.  Not everything is as it first appears and Jazz definitely succeeded in winning me over.  I can hold my hands up and say that my initial feelings for her were a bit hastily drawn and I simply needed to give her the space to tell her tale without being judgemental.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

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The Martian by Andy Weir

Posted On 6 July 2014

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I’ve just finished reading the Martian.  Firstly, wow – what an ending!  I was gripped, I could cry right now and I’m exhausted having read the full thing in virtually one day and holding my breath for long bouts when the tension cranked up – I think I’m oxygen starved!

I don’t think I’m giving away much when I say the Martian is about an astronaut (Mark Watney) who gets left behind on Mars!  In a nutshell, when the crew are making ready to depart an accident occurs that leaves one of them injured, believed dead and out of sight.  The crew, believing there is no hope, and also facing a high storm, reluctantly leave without the body!  When Mark wakes up he’s on his own, injured and without any real hope of survival or rescue!  But, this is a resourceful guy!  Planet earth may be blue but there’s plenty Mark can do.  If this was me, well, apart from the fact I wouldn’t be on such a mission in the first place, I would probably curl up in a ball, Mark, however, is a real fighter and so our story begins.

First things first, basics.  Food, water oxygen, then communication, then rescue!  These are the problems Mark has to solve and let’s just say he’s a creative thinker!  Sci fi fans will love the creativity and ingenious thinking.  I won’t deny that there’s lots of number crunching, equations, ratios – you name it, anything that my brain usually struggles with is thrown in here – and yet it’s done in a way that doesn’t leave you mind boggled.  On top of that Mark’s sense of humour in the face of such dire circumstances is positively heart warming.   He’s a botanist – fear his botany powers!  The whole growing crops aboard his little station is so inventive – not to mention his creativity about fertilisation, ahem.   Put bluntly, it’s one of those books where you alternate between thinking he’s going to die to breathing a sigh of relief, to thinking he’s going to die, to breathing – yeah, you get it!  Then, just in the nick of time, because that could become tedious – we have the inclusion of the people on earth, what’s going on at NASA the public frenzy generated by the media trying to discover what exactly is going on when they realise Mark is still alive!  I enjoyed those elements and thought they brought something extra to the story.  It’s difficult after all for one man to completely carry the story.

The story is told by Mark as he records his actions on a log and treats us to his life and death escapades with a little humour thrown in between as he comments on his only form of entertainment – 1970s tv and disco music.

In terms of criticisms… well, the sci fi problems and solutions could prove a bit much for some people.  Personally I enjoyed the creativity involved but I admit that the inclusion of ‘the earth rescue’ section came at just the right time and stopped the book from becoming too set in a pattern.  Also, I wouldn’t say that the characters are deeply explored – this is more a book about survival and the human will to live at all costs – it’s not a deeply emotional or reflective book so if you’re looking for that element you may be disappointed.  This is more a one man action/survival story with a gripping ‘will he/won’t he’ conclusion.

Personally I was pretty much glued to the page – not like I’d glued my hand there with resin or anything (you need to read the book for that reference) – in fact, towards the end, it feels like everyone on planet earth is watching Mark’s progress, gripped with tension and holding their breath and I literally felt like I was one of them!

I received a copy from Netgalley – many thanks to the publisher.  The above is my own opinion.