Tag Archives: Andy Weir

Mini Reviews of Recent Reads – Sep 2018

Would you believe it, I’m behind on my reviews again?! 😮

Here are two mini reviews of books I’ve read recently.

Artemis by Andy Weir


Like many other people, I adored Andy Weir’s debut novel, The Martian, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this second novel, despite then leaving it languishing unread for almost a year!

WELCOME TO ARTEMIS. The first city on the moon.

Population 2,000. Mostly tourists.

Some criminals.

Jazz Bashara is one of the criminals. She lives in a poor area of Artemis and subsidises her work as a porter with smuggling contraband onto the moon. But it’s not enough.

So when she’s offered the chance to make a lot of money she jumps at it. But though planning a crime in 1/6th gravity may be more fun, it’s a lot more dangerous…

Overall, I enjoyed Artemis.  I thought that the story was interesting, and I loved the complexity of it as what begins as a reasonably straightforward job for our protagonist, Jazz, escalates out of her control.  Whilst the initial set up takes a little time, I thought that once the action really got underway that the story was great, and it allowed Weir to incorporate the little snippets of science that was partly what made The Martian so brilliant (in my opinion).

I did struggle with Jazz’s character, however.  A woman in her mid-twenties, some of her speech (and definitely her humour) brings to mind a teenage boy more than a young woman.  I liked her determination and drive to achieve her goal, but I was confused as to why someone who is clearly very intelligent refuses to utilise all of the skills at her disposal.  I can understand that she has been told of her “potential” all of her life and that she may have found this irritating to the point where it pushed her the other way, but I couldn’t quite reconcile these two facets of her character.  I also wasn’t sure why she felt the need to promote herself as promiscuous, when her actions don’t actually seem to match this behaviour.

As with The Martian, Artemis is both brilliantly written and funny, and there were some pithy one-liners that made me chuckle.  A great story, but one that was a little let down by Jazz’s character for me personally.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

cross her heart

I loved Behind Her Eyes with its WTF ending – it was a brilliantly original novel, and I’ve been really looking forward to reading Cross Her Heart since its release in earlier this year.

Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job, and her best friend Marilyn, but when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go. Then her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see. Lisa’s world explodes, and she finds everything she has built threatened. Not knowing whom she can trust, it’s up to her to face her past to save what she holds dear.

Pinborough writes excellent (if not always likeable) characters, and the three ladies – Lisa, Ava, and Marilyn – at the heart of this story are no exception.  I particularly liked Ava, and I thought that she epitomised what it is to be 16 years old, with all of the angst and secrecy that implies.  Lisa, on the other hand, I didn’t care for, even though it was clear that there was some traumatic experience in her past, and it took me until later in the novel to start to sympathise with her.  Until then she just came across as a tiresome worrier.

Cross Her Heart is told in three parts, with the first part setting the scene and introducing the characters.  Whilst the pace picks up in parts two and three, I did find the first part to be a little slow as it takes a long time for the first big revelation.  It’s hinted at repeatedly, but the reader doesn’t find out what happened until much later in the book, and I did find that this made the pace a little slow initially.

Whilst Cross Her Heart didn’t quite blow me away in the same way as Pinborough’s previous novel, I still enjoyed this, and I’ll be looking out for her next offering.


The Martian by Andy Weir

Rating: ★★★★★

I think that The Martian is a particularly difficult book to review without giving away spoilers.  That said, I think I’ve come to it quite late, so perhaps everyone has already read it and / or seen the film, so maybe it’s not one to worry about.

Following an accident that causes his team to abandon their mission on Mars ahead of schedule, Mark Watney has been stranded.  Alone.  His position is dire – he has no way to leave Mars, his food supplies are limited, and he has to rely on technology that could breakdown at any moment for water, heat and oxygen.  And Mars is a fair distance away, so a rescue mission would be difficult, even if anyone knew that he was still alive…

I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Martian.  I haven’t seen the film yet (I like to read the book first!) but I was aware of the premise.  I really enjoyed it – more than I expected to.  I don’t think I’ve read a novel that manages to maintain such tension throughout in the way that this does.  And there’s plenty that could go wrong, and not just the things that you expect.

There is a fair amount of science to gets to grips with – everything Watney does to aid his survival he explains to you.  But, it’s relatively jargon free and easy to understand.  And it is fairly essential to the storyline.  Whether it’s true or not is another matter entirely – I’ve no idea.  I don’t really care.  It sounded feasible, and that’s enough for me.

I think that The Martian says a lot about the human will to survive against the odds.  No matter what the situation, I think that humans are hardwired to do whatever they can to keep going.  There are plenty of examples of this, both in real life and in works of fiction, and even though this particular situation isn’t one that we’re likely to find ourselves in, I think that the principles are the same.

I think that this is a great novel, and it’s easy to see why it’s been made into a film – I imagine it translates extremely well to the big screen.  Highly recommended.