Andy Weir: Artemis

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.

The Martian still ranks as one of my very favorite science fiction books of all time. Andy Weir managed to make space travel interesting, dramatic, and goddamn funny. We were able to actually imagine Mars exploration as a possible…albeit supremely dangerous…event, instead of something super futuristic and campy. It was brilliant.

For better and worse, this is The Martian on the moon. Weir kicks things off with a dramatic failure of an EVA suit–which is pretty dang familiar to the introduction to the first book. However, instead of Mark Watney getting left alone on a planet, Jazz is simply pulled into the airlock of her own moon city:  Artemis.

Weir “diversified” this time by making his main character a Muslim Saudi woman. We also see a couple of gay characters, a Jew, a black Kenyan mayor (also a woman). Lots of diversity….though I kind of purse my lips at it a bit, especially when it comes to Jazz. She’s SO similar to Mark Watney that it’s scary–she just has a different face. The jokes are exactly the same–the same snark, which I loved in The Martian, but here it just felt…wrong. She was both cocky AND self-depreciating, it was strange. Also, there was this moment:

“Okay, you can stop pretending you know what a niqab is. It’s a traditional Islamic headwear that covers the lower face.”

Which was a slightly awkward explanation, but ok…until she goes on to explain to say that wearing a niqab is a great way to wear a mask without being obvious about it.

What?

THE CLOTHES THAT PEOPLE OF COLOR WEAR ARE NOT COSTUMES.

It just felt very problematic to me. The rest of the diversity provided also felt a little flat. Like it was there for show, but not really developed upon?**

Also, there was a lot of slut shaming. A LOT. Jazz had a reputation for sleeping around, even though she didn’t. Why? Because she was a woman of color who dealt on the underbelly of the city? Even the guy who seemed to care about her the most tried to get her to test a prototype condom. It was gross and offensive.

Because of these reasons, I didn’t like it near as much as I loved The Martian. It felt much like the same book to me, and so, yes, it was a really good story, but I think Weir tried to veer a little too far from his own lane…while on the exact same trip. It felt a little tired. I know I’m always saying we need more diversity in books, but if you’re going to do it, you need to be able to do it well…and this just wasn’t that.

 

By the way, this is also the book of the month for #DeFrancoBookClub, so watch out for a bonus video review on my Facebook Page in the next week…whenever I find time to record it!

Crown Publishing and NetGalley provided an ARC for an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.

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**I have been looking for reviews by Muslim WOC, and haven’t been able to find any. If you know of any, please share the links!

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