An honest thief on the moon gets in way over her head…
The Martian is the ultimate science fiction beach read; a book that was almost impossible to put down. Artemis is a good book, but suffers for not being the Martian. In particular, Weir demonstrates that he is a master of “environmental” action – space is dangerous, and Artemis opens and closes with EVA sequences that are exciting and terrifying in equal measure.
Unfortunately, the rest of the book does not measure up. Weir is not adept at staging traditional action sequences, with a couple of low gravity fight scenes that barely registered. Worse, the plotting seems aimless before seeming convenient, and the characters feel like cutouts talking to each other rather than real people. The only times they come alive are in a series of pen-pal letters at the end of each chapter.
Indeed, looking at the strengths and weaknesses, it’s immediately apparent why the Martian is more successful – his writing falls apart when people directly interact with each other.
A beach read that never reaches beyond good.