My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An absolutely brilliant heist story set on the moon. Full of detail and, like The Martian, a lot of science but it’s a fascinating and fun read with a great cast of characters and a lot of action.
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 Jazz’s 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 more unlikely than the first.
So it’s safe to say that I have a rather complicated relationship with sci fi. I always say that I don’t really like it but there’s a surprising number of books in the genre that make my all time favorites list. When it works best for me I think is when it’s light on the science and heavy on the fiction. Long winded descriptions of how things work and why are a big turn off, I honestly don’t care.
This wariness of books heavy with science is in fact the reason I have never read The Martian. I heard there was a lot of descriptions and decided to stick with the movie (which I absolutely love btw). However, having now braved Artemis I think I may need to reconsider.
Very much like The Martian, Artemis is heavy on science, however this time rather than one astronaut trying to survive alone on Mars we have a whole colony living everyday life on the moon. All of them completely dependent on a myriad of systems that let them breathe, eat, drink, move around and keep them safe from any number of threats. It’s absolutely fascinating just how complicated these systems are and how everyday things are just a little bit different in such an environment. There is a lot of description in this but I absolutely loved it.
I have no idea how much is accurate or “real” science but it feels incredibly real and detailed and so well thought out. It’s never too overwhelming though and for someone like me it’s not too heavy and works around the story which is much more heist like in nature. Think Ocean’s Eleven on the moon.
Jazz is a porter and smuggler on Artemis and desperate to raise a very specific sum of money so when she’s offered a less than legal, highly risky job with a potentially huge reward she can’t resist. It all goes wrong however and she ends up on the bad side of some very dangerous people and the law. She’s forced to use her smarts and call in every favor she’s owed from her friends to pull off one more job which just might get her out of trouble or possibly even further in.
I have a feeling that Jazz will not be quite as popular as Mark Watney. She’s abrasive, has dubious ethics and despite being highly intelligent (possibly genius) she’s always looking for the highest reward for minimal effort. She keeps everyone at arms length, reader included, but despite some initial reservations she did grow on me. I loved her rebellious attitude and smart mouth and some of her comebacks really made me laugh. She’s a risk taker and is completely unpredictable which always makes for good reading.
The supporting cast of characters also make for great reading. Some are a little bit stereotyped in places but there’s something very likable about them and I loved the way they bounced off each other. The moments where they’re bantering were probably my favorite parts of the whole book.
The story is a little complicated in places (and not only because of the science) but it’s pretty fast paced and there’s plenty of action. There is the odd moment where it slows down but it did hold my attention throughout and it’s incredibly impressive the amount of detail and work that has clearly gone into it.
Overall, I’m really glad I gave this a go and it’s definitely one I’d recommend if you like a clever heist story.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC, as always all views are my own.