Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Del Rey
Publish Date: August 28th 2014 (first published 2011)
Genres: Sci-Fi, Adult
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 nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, 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, he 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. But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.
As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.
It’s been quite a while since I read this book, but my feelings are still strong, so I figured I can still write a review for it now. I read it back in April, while I was staying at my boyfriend’s, and because he likes space things, we decided to read it together. That means, I read it out aloud, and he listened. Most of the time we’d read before going to bed, or I would read to him while he was playing video games. I’m telling you all of this because the reading experience itself was so amazing, it might have added to my final rating of the book, but to be honest, I think I just liked it so much because it’s f*cking amazing. Andy Weir, what are you.
I guess it’s a good idea to start with the character of Mark Watney, seeing as he’s pretty much the centre of the book, and what can I say… I loved him. I mean, come on, the guy is stranded on Mars, on his own, with a very slim chance of survival, and he manages to stay this awesome? The jokes he makes had me laughing out loud several times, and I just got so attached to him, I was really, really scared about the ending. I was ready to travel to Andy Weir’s house and personally complain if he dared to hurt my bby Mark by the end of the story. No but seriously, Mark is a great guy and I wish I knew him in real life.
The rest of the crew and his relationship with them was equally amazing. We didn’t get to see very much of them, which was a bit of a shame really, but what you get is good. I like how different all of the characters are, but they’re all still super likeable. I obviously loved seeing Vogel the German guy, and I squealed in excitement every time he said something in German. I have to say I got Johanssen and Lewis confused a couple of times, but I was definitely happy that we got tow kickass female astronauts at once! The rest of the crew was diverse as well, as were the other characters back on earth, but I’ll get to them in a minute.
During the NASA chapters I kept thinking “gaah just get back to Watney already, I want to know what happened to him”, but looking back I really enjoyed the extra perspective we got on the whole situation. I really liked reading about how NASA are struggling with both getting Watney back but also what to tell and what not to tell the media. I have to say I don’t exactly remember all of the side characters, but I remember that I really liked most of them, and again, it’s a very diverse set of characters, and not just white Americans, which was incredibly refreshing (and authentic).
Lots of people are put off by this book because of the science-y bits, and I can see why. Nothing is too complicated, but I can understand why some people would think the page long scientific descriptions are boring. Personally, I didn’t mind them, I did Chemistry at A-Level and thoroughly enjoy the subject, so I kind of appreciated those parts of the book. If it really bothers you, you can basically just skip those parts, they aren’t essential to the story, but I think they add to it quite nicely. Probably personal preference though.
No matter whether you like it or not though, one has to salute Andy Weir for doing such a good job at researching all of these details to make the book as authentic as possible.
So yeah, what else do I need to say to convince you to read this book? Just do it. It’s amazing. And then watch the film, which is also awesome. I’ll probably do a post on that next week!