Book Review: Artemis

Artemis
By Andy Weir

My Edition:
ARC e-book, 320 pages
2017, Crown
ISBN: 9780553448122 (hardcover)

Jazz Bashara grew up in the moon colony of Artemis – scheming and smuggling her way through life, hoping for that big break that will make her rich. When one of her loyal customers offers her a huge sum of money to sabotage a company he wants to take over, Jazz agrees. When her plans begin to go awry, Jazz realizes she’s in over her head and that her “simple” crime is at the center of a much larger conspiracy to control all of Artemis.

Artemis was a load of fun to read.

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Movie Adaptations

Movie adaptations of books can be a double-edged sword to book lovers. Of course I want to see my favorite books made into movies – good ones though! More often than not, despite trying to keep my expectations low, I usually leave the theater disappointed.

Most recently, I was feeling optimistic about The Martian. I think Matt Damon was an excellent choice for Mark Watney and I figured, based on the previews, that this could be a decent movie. Unfortunately I ended up bored. Granted, it’s hard to be impartial when I’ve already read the book, and yes, I knew how it would end. However, there were some pivotal scenes in the book that were either left out of the movie, or had all the drama sucked out of them. During the whole movie, it felt like nothing was really at stake. I seem to be in the minority with my opinion on this movie however – though I’ve yet to talk to anyone else who’s read the book as well. If you’ve read The Martian and seen the movie, what did you think of the two?

I might be a harsh critic, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting quality and authenticity in movie adaptations of books. I’m tired of important scenes being left out so scenes that aren’t in the books can eat up the screen time instead. Most times I avoid book adaptations to spare myself the frustration. I made the mistake of watching the first Hobbit movie…what a disaster that was! I also wasn’t impressed with Horns, though it wasn’t for lack of trying on the actor’s parts – once again all the feeling seemed to have been sucked out of the script.

But I’m not impossible to please! I’ve been satisfied with the Hunger Games films, though they’re probably the most recent book adaptations I’ve seen and actually enjoyed. I also liked the movie versions of Howl’s Moving Castle and Memoirs of A Geisha. While they both vary from the books, it was done in a way that didn’t bother me. I tend to think of them as separate entities and it makes them easier to enjoy.

Then in the middle of that spectrum lies Beautiful Creatures. I’ll admit…I’ll sit through almost anything starring Jeremy Irons. I saw the movie first and thought that the storyline had potential. The acting wasn’t great, nor was the writing, but I enjoy tales about witches and figured the book would be ten times better. So I picked up book one and was even more disappointed with it than I was with the movie.

So tell me, do you normally give movie adaptations of books a chance? Are they any you’d recommend?

Book Review: The Martian

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The Martian
By Andy Weir

My Edition:
Paperback, 387 pages
2014 (or 2011?), Broadway Books
ISBN: 9780553418026

I received this book for free from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mark Watney is accidentally abandoned on Mars during an emergency evacuation and thought to be dead for weeks. But Mark survived and is scratching out a living as the lone man on Mars based on his ingenuity and remaining resources. But can he survive long enough for those back on Earth to try to put together a rescue mission – will that mission even be possible?

What I like:
This is another book where I just want to say “Oh  my gourd, go read it!” and just let you experience everything for yourself. I was hooked from page one and instantly appreciated Mark’s wit and sarcasm. I present you with the opening sentences:

“I’m pretty much fucked. That’s my considered opinion. Fucked.”

Well, that got my attention!

Mark makes this book – considering more than half of it is his personal log of his new life trying to survive on Mars, this is an important part. I instantly liked him as a character and while he’s a smartass, he’s also very smart. He’s primarily a botanist, and his skills actually help him to survive. He’s crafty with his resources and I don’t want to give away much, but I’ll say that he bounces back well from any mishaps. That’s another great part – Mark is not some super genius who flawlessly carves out his life on Mars. He miscalculates, he makes stupid mistakes and he gets knocked down. There’s a lot of science and math in this book and I’ll be honest, I have no damn clue if it’s accurate, and I don’t care. It felt accurate and that was enough for me. Surprisingly enough, while I didn’t understand most of Mark’s calculations, I didn’t feel bored or lost while he was working through them – it genuinely felt like a man keeping a log of just how he planned to try to survive on Mars for as long as he possibly could. Those of you who are actually knowledgeable about spacemath and sciencejunk might actually enjoy this book even more.

Part way through, we’re given insight into the lives of people back on Earth, as well as Mark’s other crew members. At first, I thought it might disrupt the journal-like flow of Mark’s logs, but it actually added essential detail to the story and there wasn’t a single page in this book I didn’t enjoy.

Here are a few more quotes that made me chuckle:

“I used a sophisticated method to remove sections of plastic (hammer), then carefully removed the solid foam insulation (hammer again).”

“Now that NASA can talk to me, they won’t shut the hell up.”

What I didn’t like:
Hmmm…uh……let’s see…..

Oh! I know. I have the paperback edition, and they designed the cover to have a shorter edge, so you can see the page beneath it, which they also made to be the same color as the cover background. So, why do that? It’s ugly and I don’t think it lends to the design.

Yep…that’s it.

~

Seriously, if you’re at all interested in a realistic sci-fi read (meaning no aliens and space fights, etc) then check out this book. I had a hard time putting this down and I enjoyed waffling back and forth between how I thought the book ended. Mark is an excellent main character who kept me laughing, despite what I consider to be a harrowing experience. I also hear (according to IMDB) they’re making this into a movie and if it’s done right I think it will be fantastic.