Weir became a well-known science fiction writer after the wild success of his début novel, The Martian, which was adapted into the 2015 film also called The Martian. However, his older work also includes comics and short stories, the most notable in the latter category being “The Egg.”
Despite being the stuff of 20th century science fiction, in the year 2080, the moon colony Artemis shows all the signs of human vices and corruption as it remains plagued by the social hierarchy and inequality present on earth. Having been raised on the moon her whole life, Jazz inhabits the underbelly of Artemis, taking odd jobs distributing contraband to get by, and never making any more trouble than she has to. However, when a shrewd businessman makes Jazz an offer that could take her out of the poverty she resides in, she soon becomes embroiled in a bigger scheme than she ever imagined.
As in The Martian, Weir’s quick wit and talent for dialogue shine through in the interpersonal moments, proving to be one of the strongest parts of both books. While his former novel takes a break from the protagonist’s narrative to peer into the inter-working of NASA, Artemis instead looks to the letters between pen pals - and in each case, the cut from the action serves as a meaningful stop, not only building their respective worlds, but also fleshing out the story and characters to a fuller degree. Moreover, just as Mark Watney detailed the technical aspects of his trip, so does Jazz, describing many real life physics and engineering concepts to the reader in layman terms. However, in my opinion, the lack of context for these terms, along with the sheer magnitude of concepts, proved harmful to the overall story, especially during what should have been fast paced sequences. At times I’ll admit I tended to skim through the long-winded explanations, however, for the most part, the content is informative and engaging.
In many ways I preferred the contained storyline and few but complete characters of The Martian to the inhabitants of Artemis that seemed to have stories left to tell. However, Weir’s sophomore novel has much to offer yet, with a wider and more diverse cast, an interesting look into economics, and what might prove to be the next sci-fi blockbuster. While usually the books I recommend have “something for everyone,” I definitely suggest Artemis for the seasoned (or otherwise) fan of science, astronomy, and sci-fi, however if you’re not interested in STEM concepts, you might end up missing a lot of the book. Regardless, the novel is full of action, intrigue, and mystery, and reading it may even piqué curiosity in subjects you hadn’t expected.
-Nikki, a (Dusen)Berry blogger and member of the River Library Teen Advisory Board