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.