The Martian – Andy Weir

 

Synopsis (from the back of the book):

Six days ago astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’s surface, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

Armed with nothing but his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–Mark embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive. but will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

My Rating: 5/5 Stars — Worth re-reading at least twice more.

My Review:

The Martian is the story of one astronaut, Mark Watney. The unluckiest man on Mars.

Watney finds himself stranded on the red planet injured, alone, and unable to communicate with his crew or NASA. The Martian follows Watney in his attempt to not die, which is already a difficult task on an empty planet with limited supplies. The situation is made worse as problems arise, and Watney’s solutions create new, bigger problems.

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Let me begin by saying that I have never seen a writer put so much technical detail into a book. You get all the nitty-gritty details regarding hydrogen, how to convert x into y, and how long it takes. There’s good reason for this – The author, Andy Weir, is a huge space nerd.

The Martian is the lovechild of his affair with science. So there is a lot of science in the text. The good news is he’s written it in a way that a layman can understand, and enjoy! Not once was I bored or bogged down with the details.

The details are delivered to us through Watney’s internal dialogue. Watney is not a dull man. His humor is down to earth (hah!), sarcastic, and admirable. The way he takes every hit to his morale and turns it around into an entertaining problem solving session is so clever, so authentic that you can truly fool yourself into believing that Mark Watney is a real man, and that this story is based on his actual experiences.

I have to say that the text is flawless. There aren’t any awkward breaks in sentence structure or plot, or typos (that I could find) that interrupt the reading experience. The most brilliant part of this book is how the author managed to maintain suspense in a story where you as the reader are spending your time almost exclusively with one character.

And he did it without getting deeply psychological or disturbing. I have read so many stories where a character is stranded or alone in a cabin in the woods or otherwise isolated, and they suffer this internal roller coaster. It’s something you might expect, but in many of those stories they are hard on your “reading energy,” and you need a break with something a little more light.

That is unnecessary with the Martian. Watney’s character will carry the reader on his back, from start to finish. I highly recommend this book to science lovers, and to those looking to get their feet wet in the science fiction genre. 5/5. This is going in my re-read pile!

Bonus link: Here is where The Martian was born.