Artemis by Andy Weir

Artemis by Andy Weir

artemisweirJazz lives on Artemis, the first city on the moon. She delivers packages to eek out a living as well as other, more shady, methods of income.

“I live in Artemis, the first (and so far, only) city on the moon. It’s made of five huge spheres called “bubbles.” They’re half underground, so Artemis looks exactly like old sci-fi books said a moon city should look: a bunch of domes.” pg 5

One day, one of the richest men on the moon makes her an offer far too lucrative for her to refuse… all she has to do is something very dangerous and illegal. No problem, right?

“I’m sorry, but this isn’t my thing,” I said. “You’ll have to find someone else.” “I’ll give you a million slugs.” “Deal.” pg 46.

Andy Weir’s follow-up to The Martian was disappointing to me.

Unlike his first book, the science is watered down. It’s not as educational and quirky. In my mind, the exceptional science was what separated The Martian from other science fiction offerings.

The characterizations are one dimensional, like The Martian, but it was less of a problem in the first book. In that one, you were mainly dealing with one person, alone.

In Artemis, Weir tries to build a city of characters and I didn’t buy into it.

The main character, a female narrator, is particularly problematic. She just didn’t sound like a woman to me.

“I landed like a sack of sh*t. But I landed on the other side of the alcove and didn’t break anything. … Whatever. A clumsy, awkward success is still a success.” pg 124.

But beyond those small problems, Artemis is still enjoyable.

Weir put a huge amount of thought into how an economy on the moon would work. It is the most realistic I’ve ever read.

He also nails the human condition, the drive for novelty and tourism.

Weir describes the trouble with travel: Even when it’s a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. You leak money like a sieve. You’re jet-lagged. You’re exhausted all the time. You’re homesick even though you’re on vacation.” pg 152.

Word.

Members of my book club voiced the opinion that Weir wrote this book as if he was prepping it for the screen. I agree.

If you’re going to read one Weir book, go with The Martian. Borrow this one from the library.

Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

Iron Gold (Red Rising Saga #4) by Pierce Brown

Iron Gold (Red Rising Saga #4) by Pierce Brown

irongoldDarrow led an uprising and smashed the hierarchy that had held the worlds in its thrall. Now, ten years later, he is discovering the difficulties of maintaining rule and stamping out the last of the old regime.

More than anything else, Darrow is sick of war. Yet, unrest dogs his every step.

“I remember when you told me I was a good man who’d have to do bad things,” I say. “Your stomach go soft? Or have you spent so much time with politicians that you’ve forgotten what the enemy looks like?” pg 21.

The government Darrow and his allies have crafted out of the former rebellion is divided in how to proceed. The enemy is entrenched on the planets nearest the sun… and also the planets furthest from it.

“Like you, I wish for nothing more than peace. I wish for a world where the machine of war does not swallow our young. … Our enemies have held dominion over us for too long. First as slaves, then adversaries. And what stability, what harmony can we bring to the worlds we have freed while they continue to define us?” pg 89.

Pierce Brown has crafted a satisfying return to his dystopian world with characters readers loved from his first three books.

We also get to meet a few new ones like a wily thief who gets in over his head and a kind, young Red who discovers The Reaper’s new world isn’t anything like it was portrayed on the holos.

There’s sweeping speeches and heart-pounding battle scenes. Brown’s newest book is incredibly entertaining.

I have two regrets though.

The first is I read the other books so long ago, I forgot many of the small details. If I had it to do over again, I’d re-read the first trilogy before hopping into this one.

“It is our duty to embrace the scars our choices give us, to embrace and remember our mistakes, else we live believing our own myth.”pg 316.

The second is Brown hasn’t written his next book yet and he ends on, what seems to be for him, a signature cliffhanger.

I refused to read the first three books until the trilogy was complete because I really don’t like waiting for the next entry in a series.

“The key to learning, to power, to having the final say in everything, is observation. By all means, be a storm inside, but save your movement and wind till you know your purpose.” pg 355.

It’s a nod to Brown’s genius that I purchased this new title from the book store. I’m a library patron through and through, but this is one that is worth owning.

Here’s hoping Brown writes really fast.

Highly recommended for science fiction and dystopian fans. Start with Red Rising.

Thanks for reading!

Where the Rock Splits the Sky by Philip Webb

Where the Rock Splits the Sky by Philip Webb

wheretherockWhere the Rock Splits the Sky is the story of Megan, a girl who has lost both her father and mother and who lives on the edge of a strange, haunted area called “The Zone.” In this part of the world, people are driven mad by unknown forces and the world doesn’t follow the normal rules of physics.

The Earth itself has stopped spinning because it was invaded by an alien species that the surviving humans call “Visitors.” One day, Megan is told that her father is still alive and that he is in the Zone.

She has no choice but to go find him. And the adventure begins.

This story was a surreal, heart-pounding adventure from start to finish.

I loved the dystopian aspect of it- the aliens are truly terrifying because the reader isn’t sure what they can or can’t do. It’s not even clear from the start who is or isn’t an alien.

The guessing game makes for some exciting tension. That same unknown quality is extended to the “Zone” itself so that the story at any moment could pass from normal to totally bonkers.

That uncertainty makes this a great read, in my mind.

I did have some complaints- I wanted more to happen during the final, climatic scene. It felt like after such a great build up that things ended too quickly and neatly. But I suppose one can’t have it all.

Also, this book required a great deal of suspension of belief. I mean, for goodness sake, the world has stopped spinning. That’s some fairly serious physics law breaking. And that is assumed from the start.

This novel reminded me of The Gunslinger in that both have western themes and some horror elements to it. This is definitely a more young adult version while Stephen King’s novel was written for adults. It’s also a lot shorter

With those caveats in mind, fans of that series may enjoy this one.

Also, anyone who likes to read young adult, dystopian books might enjoy Where the Rock Splits the Sky. It’s an interesting addition to the genre.

I received a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.

Thanks for reading!

What would it take for women to run the world?

What would it take for women to run the world?

thepowerA book review of The Power by Naomi Alderman.

In The Power, young women have developed the ability to control electricity. It shifts the balance of power between the sexes and the world begins to come apart at the seams.

It is told from the point of view of a few women and a man. They each have different stories and experiences that Naomi Alderman blends together to create a powerful statement about how we live.

This is one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read, but also, most brilliant. It made me think about all of the internal biases I have when it comes to gender, cultural expectations and roles.

Who was it who said: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This book is an examination of power and how it has shaped the world, not always for the better.

The monumental societal shift starts out small enough. A man named Tunde captures a moment between a young woman and a man who was hitting on her at the grocery store: “Tunde is recording when she turns around. … There she is, bringing her hand to his arm when he smiles and thinks she is performing mock-fury for his amusement. If you pause the video for a moment at this point, you can see the charge jump.” loc 261, ebook.

Those who have been abused are more likely to become abusers. And there are many, many abused women in the world.

“A strange new kind of fighting which leaves boys- mostly boys, sometimes girls- breathless and twitching, with scars like unfurling leaves winding up their arms or legs or across the soft flesh of their middles. Their first thought after disease is a new weapon, something these kids are bringing into school, but as the first week trickles into the second they know that’s not it.” loc 316, ebook.

Entire governments crumble to powerful women. Women who have been locked up their entire lives roam the streets, free. Soon enough, they’re locking up and abusing the men, because they can.

Religions change. Sexual predilections change. New politicians are elected. New soldiers are trained.

“Allie thinks, God is telling the world that there is to be a new order. That the old way is overturned. The old centuries are done.”loc 681, ebook.

The new scourge of third world countries are powerful, uncontrolled women.

“He wounds three of the women in the leg or arm and the others are on him like a tide. There is a sound like eggs frying. When Tunde gets close enough to show what has been done, he is perfectly still, the twisted-vine marks across his face and neck so thick that his features are barely discernible.” loc 884, ebook.

I think book clubs may find plenty to talk about in this book- if they can make it through. There are some very disturbing scenes.

“Gender is a shell game. What is a man? Whatever a woman isn’t. What is a woman? Whatever a man is not. Tap on it and it’s hollow. Look under the shells: it’s not there.” loc 4780, ebook.

In a time when so many women may feel powerless or voiceless, The Power may speak directly to them. It is, as I’ve said, a disturbing book, but also a conversation starter.

To quote Victor Hugo: Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come. And, in my mind, it was the perfect time for this book to be written.

Thank you to NetGalley for a free digital copy of this book and thanks for reading.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

darkmatterDark Matter is a fantastic, sci-fi read about regret, love and quantum mechanics.

My book club picked this wild ride of a book and everybody took something different out of it.

We all enjoyed it, which is weird for us. Usually, we have opinions across the spectrum. This one, though, was universally loved. That’s saying something.

“In the shadow of this moment, my life is achingly beautiful. “I have an amazing family. A fulfilling job. We’re comfortable. Nobody’s sick.” pg 28. And then, something truly surprising happens. No spoilers!

I think that, as time passes, we grow comfortable in our lives, our marriages and relationships. Part of this book is about appreciating what you may take for granted. “He says, “It’s like we get so set in our ways, so entrenched in those grooves, we stop seeing our loved ones for who they are. But tonight, right now, I see you again, like the first time we met, when the sound of your voice and your smell was this new country.” pg 67.

The leader of my book club picked quotations that had to do about self-knowing and quantum mechanics. It was no surprise that mine were all about love. I’m one of the hopeless romantics of the group.

And one of the most open-minded: “We all live day to day completely oblivious to the fact that we’re a part of a much larger and stranger reality that we can possibly imagine.” pg 96. I truly believe that.

A local physics professor joined our circle and gave a short lecture on basic quantum mechanics and wave theory. But, you don’t have to be an expert on the subject to enjoy this story. It’s approachable science, like The Martian.

Recommended for book clubs, especially, but also anyone who wants an unbelievable story will probably love this too.

I heard that this is going to be made into a film- read the book anyway. It’s always better.

Thanks for reading!

Authority (Southern Reach #2) by Jeff VanderMeer

Authority (Southern Reach #2) by Jeff VanderMeer

authorityThe mystery of Area X continues with an FBI agent’s entry into the Southern Reach. What’s going on? Why can’t anybody remember anything? Why is everyone so antagonistic? And why does everything smell bad?

Rarely have I been so disappointed with a book as I was with Authority. The first entry in this series is a gripping, psychedelic adventure that reads like a nature-gone-wild acid trip. This book, on the other hand, is like going to work with a punishing hangover. You don’t know what’s going on and everybody is pushing piles of paper at you.

“A shadow had passed over the director’s desk then. He’d been here before, or somewhere close, making these kinds of decisions before, and it had almost broken him, or broken through him. But he had no choice.” pg 18. On and on it goes. No answers, only confusion and bewilderment. I honestly thought, up until the very end, that something mega-cool was going to happen to make up for all of the so-so stuff that had happened so far. Unfortunately…

I also got super excited anytime Area X was mentioned, sort of like passing an old fling on your way to a funeral. Take this passage: “But the truth did have a simple quality to it: About thirty-two years ago, along a remote southern stretch known by some as the “forgotten coast,” an Event had occurred that began to transform the landscape and simultaneously caused an invisible border or wall to appear.” pg 35. Yes! And then we were immediately back into the boring office work/politics stuff.

“You’ve heard of the Southern Reach?” He had, mostly through a couple of colleagues who had worked there at one time. Vague allusions, keeping to the cover story about environmental catastrophe. Rumors of a chain of command that was eccentric at best. Rumors of a significant variation, of there being more to the story. But, then, there always was. He didn’t know, on hearing his mother say those words, whether he was excited or not.” pg 71. And that, my friends, is pretty much the whole book. Let me save you another 250 or so pages.

I exaggerate. A bit. It’s just that I’m incredibly disappointed in the turn this story took. I suppose I’ll read the last one in this series because I’m a completionist, but that is the only reason.

Thanks for reading!

The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3) by Rick Yancey

The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3) by Rick Yancey

thelaststarThe Last Star is the final entry in The 5th Wave, a trilogy about aliens, teenagers and the end of the world. It is also a morality play about what matters. Why do cars, jobs and stuff matter so much when, in the end, it is all about our relationships and love.

I’m sorry to say that I found the ending to be unsatisfying. Yancey wove such a puzzling yarn that I felt like he didn’t completely untangle all the knots. To be fair, there was a lot going on. But, I read the last pages and I felt a big, internal: “huh?”

This book also reminded me of The Road. “From piles of blackened bones to corpses wrapped head to toe in tattered sheets and old blankets, just lying there in the open like they’d dropped from the sky, alone or in groups of ten or more. So many bodies that they faded into the background, just another part of the mess, another piece of the urban vomit.”pg 70.

The Last Star also raised big questions about civilization and its durability. How thin is the veneer on civilization? What would it take for humanity to turn on itself? Most dystopian writers say, not much.

I don’t know. I’m of two minds on the issue. One part of me says, civilization is a flimsy set of agreements that could easily crumble with enough fear, famine and plague.

The other part of me, the eternal optimist side, says that there is something within each of us that even the worst calamity couldn’t touch.

Kill the body, yes. Kill hope, yes. But kill the soul and its purpose? No. I feel like that part would find a way. And part of that soul’s purpose, I think, is connection to others. That means, civilization. So, there’s something more permanent to it, something fated.

Anyway, The 5th Wave as a three-part story is intense, gritty and could lead to some excellent discussions because it leaves a lot of open-ended questions and ambiguous answers. Rather like life.

Thanks for reading!