Set in the present, this novel imagines a bizarre phenomenon affecting the moon causes 21st Century life to break down. The changes don't happen at once but before too long people are forced to live without the global communication network, electricity and eventually fuel. Food is in short supply and hospitals are closed down. It's a speculative look then of how quickly the fabric of society would break down if we lost the trappings of modern life.
The author has chosen to set the action in three main locations; an outback town in Australia, rural Britain and Midwest America. In each we are introduced to a small group of characters whose experiences we follow throughout the book. I would have preferred at least one main character to have been more challenging to like, these were all decent humans behaving mostly decently, a little more tension and some questionable ethics would have added an interesting further slant. However, I did appreciate that unusually and refreshingly little of the plot is set in a city and so urban looting and violence isn't a central feature but rather a creeping menace. It's still though a book that often covered familiar ground, whether the cause is something strange happening to the moon, a devastating global disease or the zombie apocalypse, there always seems to be small groups of individuals forced together to survive, gangs that have quickly descended into lawlessness roaming the streets, shops and houses broken into and left derelict.
My main criticism of The Artemis Effect though is the pacing. I wish the author had written this as a part one, rather than the complete story. The main part of the book takes its time describing the events that are occurring to our protagonists across the globe and we are given a sense of the fear of what if this change is permanent? The end though felt far too rushed, the reason for the change to the moon is never fully explained which I don't have a problem with but I did think it was a shame that a story that could have sensibly been extended into a second novel was instead wrapped up in a few pages that ultimately felt rather unsatisfactory. Despite these flaws I did enjoy The Artemis Effect, but I hope in future the author considers continuing her interesting and well thought out ideas into a sequel or even series of books rather than feeling the conclusion must be reached in just the one novel.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Artemis Effect from the publishers through Netgalley in return for my honest review.