This book is one of few this year that I waited intently for the release, and then purchased as soon as I saw it available. I follow Kasia James’ blog, Writer’s Block, and I had become familiar with her impressive poetry. So as I learned of the plot and impending release of The Artemis Effect, I promptly put it on my To Read list. I wasn’t disappointed. Please note, as always, that this review does not contain spoilers.
The Artemis Effect tells the story of a confounding celestial event that rapidly throws the entire planet into crisis. Although global in scope, the story is told to us across three locations: Australia, England, and the United States. The characters in each location have their personal and environmental struggles as the world they know crumbles around them. The human responses to the growing crisis are unsettlingly realistic, despite the surreal circumstances. The unfolding breakdown is dramatic in some instances (e.g. riots), and much more subtle in others (e.g. unexplained disruptions to communications). As the modern world reels under the mysterious event in the heavens, the characters must learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones in an increasingly hostile and primal world.
Kasia James has a wonderful command of language. The prologue is poetically written, bringing to mind (despite the complete difference of genre) Terry Pratchett’s engaging style. The character development is well done. I particularly liked the story that plays out in Britain. The characters are complex and I think some of the more exciting scenes play out there.
The Artemis Effect succeeds on a level that few other books I’ve read recently have been able to. James lays out for us an unfolding mystery that baffles the main characters, as well as the reader, throughout most of the story. There is something happening that has impacted the entire planet, and yet the best any of the characters can do is hypothesize as to what is going on. There is a tantalizing aura of mystery that permeates the book, and the author does a masterful job of leading the readers along without providing ultimate answers to the mystery until the very end (if indeed the observations given are wholly accurate). In my opinion, the climactic resolution of many a novel often goes too far, too fast, in providing answers. This is a problem when the primary entertainment is reading how the characters have to deal with the mystery. Take away the mystery too quickly, and you take away a big part of the reason to continue investing time in the story. The Artemis Effect kept me intrigued from beginning to end, and I recommend it to any who enjoy science fiction and mystery. I am very much looking forward to Kasia James’ future works.