Book Review: ARTEMIS by Andy Weir

The Review:

I nearly bailed on this one– but am glad I didn’t.
Like many readers, I was blown away by THE MARTIAN. With such a huge breakout book, a second book has high expectations.

What this book isn’t: like THE MARTIAN in theme or character
What this book is: a rouge-ish caper for the future of the moon

Jazz , our narrator, was born in Saudi Arabia, and her single father moved her to the moon colony Artemis at age six. Because of the reduced gravity, Jazz’s prospects for ever living a safe life back on Earth are limited, but no fear– she’s made a life– or multiple lives– for herself on the moon. Not only is she a delivery girl, but also a smuggler with big ambitions, all while trying to get her permit to lead expeditions on the surface to rich tourists.

When offered a job with a fee she can’t turn down, Jazz gets more attention than she’d like and that kind of attention comes with knives and death threats. A caper helps ensure not only Jazz’s survival, but the future of a democratic moon colony, and her crew is up to the challenge– almost.

The reason I nearly ditched the book early on was a “man writing woman” tone to Jazz’s character. For instance, she describes how good she looks in an ensemble she’s putting on as a disguise. Similarly, Jazz talks often about liking sex, or having it a lot, but never seems to have sexual attraction at all on the page. When it does happen, it feels forced. However, Jazz is entertaining to follow because of her wry sense of humor and distinct, if twisted, understanding of right and wrong.

Much of Weir’s first book laid on the shoulders of the title “Martian,” but the strengths in this book come in the ensemble cast of complicated, riotous personalities. Jazz’s father is a favorite character in the book, as are her various personalities in power that she comes up against– the policeman Rudy, the head of the tourist tour program, Bob, and former best friend, Dale.

Weir paints an interesting setting for this novel. Unlike THE MARTIAN, ARTEMIS focuses not one what is possible in the very near future, but what could be possible in the next fifty years. The characters live in interconnected bubbles with all the necessary components of life. Weir’s books are “sciencey” sci-fi, but never so overly technical that the reader gets lost.

Over all, the first fifty pages are a bit of a character study and the “love” plots of the book don’t work well for me as a reader, but the rollicking plot and chemistry of the characters kept me hooked. As far as I’m concerned, a good follow-up book with room to grow for his third.

The Details:

ARTEMIS by Andy Weir (Crown Publishing)

Release Date: November 17, 2017

Find it on Amazon, B&N, Parnassus, or add it on Goodreads!

 

Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review

Book Review: Spoonbenders

The Review:

The Amazing Telemachus Family was disgraced on national TV years ago and hasn’t been the same since. A generation later, and minus the family matriarch, Teddy and his now-grown children Irene, Frankie, and Buddy view their psychic gifts as more curse than blessing. Add into the works a mob boss calling in his due, a secret government program, plus all of the trappings of the early 1990s and you have the recipe for a raucous new novel by Daryl Gregory.

I’ll keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but let me start off with a few comparative books and movies that came to mind. Spoonbenders has the hilarious dialogue of Arrested Development with all of the flawed and complex characterization of The Corrections. Unlike Franzen’s deeply unlikeable characters, however, Spoonbenders shows the depths– funny and tragic– while also keeping you solidly on the side of the Telemachus clan. Standout characters for me included Irene. She, perhaps more than her siblings, showed how truly double-edged a “talent” can be.

This novel is told in alternating perspectives from the POVs of family members. Each chapter advances the overall plot and helps describe the “how we got here” portion of the backstory. In my experience, it’s hard for an author to balance the back and front story, but Gregory did it with ease and I tore through this book in three solid sittings. At points, I even found the backstory portions of this novel hilariously Infinite Jesty. And while Gregory’s book delves into the weird with unabashed joy, it doesn’t range as far as David Foster Wallace does– to the book’s credit. Simply put, this book is a twisty family drama, heavy on the humor and light-to-medium on the sci-fi.

Completely taken by surprise by this book. Add it to your TBR if you’re looking for a funny, thrilling book.

The Details

Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

Published by: Knopf on June 27, 2017

Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, and Parnassus

 

Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.