The one after the blockbuster can be tricky business. Do you follow a similar path or do you consciously steer away? Such is the choice Andy Weir, author of the incredibly successful The Martian, faced with his follow-up effort Artemis. Weir’s solution? Take a little from column A and from column B.

Similar to The Martian, which relied almost entirely on the internal dialogue of astronaut Mark Watney, Artemis spends most of its time in the head of a single character, moon base Artemis porter Jasmine (Jazz) Bashara. Also similar to The Martian, the present protagonist has a bit of a potty mouth and is uber clever. By way of contrast, Mark Watney is male, white, and many things apple pie. Jazz is young, female, scheming, and Muslim. Whereas Watney was the hero from page one of The Martian, it takes the decent but underperforming Jazz the better part of Artemis to fully rise to the moment.

Those reading Artemis hoping for all the realistic, near-future science fiction of The Martian might be a bit disappointed as Weir trades a bit of that in for more world building and character development. Fortunately, the economics of maintaining Artemis, and corruption thereof, plays a central role and is every bit as intriguing as the science if not more so.

Weir tries hard, maybe a bit too hard, to get you to like the characters your suppose to like. There are also plenty of typical character traits. Jazz may be a young Muslim woman living on the moon but she is an attractive young Muslim woman living on the moon. She also has a nerdy tech friend who knows nothing about woman and a handsome gay male friend who, despite a history between them, always has her back. Still, it all ultimately works even if it adds up to slightly less than the sum of the parts. Should another novel in this series follow, and I’m sure it will, hopefully Weir can create more compelling characters to inhabit the generally convincing world he has begun with Artemis.