The Martian by Andy Weir

20829029Novel: The Martian by Andy Weir | Goodreads
Release Date: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Crown
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Also Published On: Lit Up Review

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?

Andy Weir originally self-published The Martian in 2011. No wonder the novel eventually got picked up by a big publisher and adapted into a blockbuster film this year – it’s fantastic. While I have yet to see the movie, The Martian is a thrilling, adult science fiction novel that will appeal to a wide range of readers. I am not a science person at all. I have to work harder in my science classes at school to learn and prepare for tests, and I still don’t feel like I fully comprehend the material a lot of the time. So, naturally, much of the science in this book went completely over my head. But while I may not have understood all of the astrophysics concepts, I did appreciate the vast amount of research and knowledge Weir poured into his novel. The Martian is one of those books that makes you smarter just by you reading it.

Aside from the scientific specifics, the plot and protagonist stand out from those in other science fiction books I’ve read. Mark Watney is intelligent, hilarious, and, at times, a bit crude (but in a lovable way). It’s hard to imagine anyone handling being stranded alone on Mars for a year and a half, but he does with grace and a sense of humor. Mark narrates a majority of the novel through log entries, so he feels very real and unfiltered. There were times while reading where I began to feel a bit stifled by reading from one person’s perspective with little to no character interactions, but the novel would soon shift gears and give me a perspective change through NASA, the China space program headquarters, Watney’s crew, etc. (these were all written in third person). I didn’t find the plot to be predictable – there were always twists, turns, and catastrophes that Mark and the scientists watching him were able to solve through quick thinking, wit, and level heads. The Martian truly feels real, like it is actually happening or is a record of events that happened recently. In this aspect, it’s incredibly unique and it has renewed my interest in space programs.

Though I don’t read much science fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed The Martian. The only cons I can name are that, occasionally, Mark’s sarcasm seemed a little forced; I didn’t always find the science easy or desirable to follow; and at times, the story felt monotonous. However, I think the latter two “cons” were intended: space science IS complicated and the average person won’t understand all (or rather most) of it, and I think Weir wanted readers to feel the monotony of Mark’s life on Mars in order to enhance their perspective on the situation. Overall, I highly recommend The Martian to anyone who likes a witty narrator (think grown-up Percy Jackson) and is interested in a scientific space adventure. I can’t wait to watch the movie and see how it compares!

Thanks for reading.


Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

20829994Novel: Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan | Goodreads
Release Date: August 19th, 2014
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Also Published On: Lit Up Review

A publisher in New York asked me to write down what I know about the Greek gods, and I was like, Can we do this anonymously? Because I don’t need the Olympians mad at me again. But if it helps you to know your Greek gods, and survive an encounter with them if they ever show up in your face, then I guess writing all this down will be my good deed for the week.

So begins Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, in which the son of Poseidon adds his own magic—and sarcastic asides—to the classics. He explains how the world was created, then gives readers his personal take on a who’s who of ancients, from Apollo to Zeus. Percy does not hold back. “If you like horror shows, blood baths, lying, stealing, backstabbing, and cannibalism, then read on, because it definitely was a Golden Age for all that.”

Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods is a collection of mythology stories surrounding the major Greek gods that is narrated by none other than Percy Jackson himself. The size of the book surprised me when it arrived at my doorstep last October – don’t expect to fit this one on your bookshelves next to your other Rick Riordan gems. It’s the size of the classic D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, but is much heavier. The book can be read alongside or separate from the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series as it is a companion to Riordan’s other works. It is illustrated beautifully by John Rocco, the illustrator of all of Riordan’s beloved novel covers.

I am a self-declared mythology buff. I’ve studied it independently for most of my albeit short life and my mom integrated it into my curriculum when I was homeschooled. So I began reading this book with mixed expectations: I thought it’d be a fun, easy read but didn’t think I’d learn anything new from it. BOY, was I wrong. Rick Riordan really did his research, because though he tells the basic creation story of each god, he also includes SO many obscure details that I had never picked up on before. Each chapter is dedicated to a god and tells all sorts of short narratives about the god’s life and encounters with mortals and other mythological beings. Percy’s narration is hilarious and sarcastic and really the reason I picked this book up to begin with. He references characters from Percy Jackson & the Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus, and also throws in modern day references to technology, etc. that add humor to the stories. The book really feels like it was written by Percy, even more so than the PJO series did, and Percy never disappoints. If you love the PJO series you will adore this book, and if you read this one without ever having touched a Rick Riordan novel, I guarantee you’ll want to upon finishing.

Rick Riordan and John Rocco are releasing a second mythology book this August called Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes, a second PJO companion book chronicling famous Greek heroes and their tales. Like Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, it will probably teach me something new and have me rolling on the floor laughing from Percy’s snarky commentary. For all Rick Riordan lovers, Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods is a must-read, but I extend my recommendation to all mythology lovers and book lovers alike because the charm of the illustrations, the captivating narration, and the notable details of the stories make this mythology collection unlike any other.