Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir
Author: Andy Weir
Length: 369 Pages
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: ★★★★½
As you all have probably seen, The Martian has been adapted into a movie starring Matt Damon and the trailers have been everywhere! Before I accidentally got spoiled by any of the promo materials, I decided to read the book, AND it fit perfectly in my stack for the Rainbowthon.
Mark Watney is a botanist and mechanical engineer who is a member of the crew of Ares 3, a manned mission traveling to Mars. He and his five crewmates travel the 10 months it takes to get to Mars, land perfectly and go about their mission collecting samples and research for NASA. During this time, they are hit by a freak storm and Mark is injured, thrown far away from his crew, and thought to be dead. His team frantically searches for him and after they are unable to locate him, they reach a critical point where they must depart without him or they risk killing the whole team. Mark is left behind. With no way to communicate with his crew or NASA, he is left alone to survive alone on Mars.
If this sounds like a very stressful and tense read, let me confirm your suspicions, it is. Despite that, the personal journal/diary style of writing allows for Mark's humor and sarcasm to shine through. The opening of the book goes something like, "I'm pretty much fucked." Which... this is exactly what my reaction would be to this situation. Luckily, Mark has the skills and intelligence to take a very unlikely to survive situation and turn it into one in which he has a fighting chance.
Like I mentioned, Mark is a botanist and a mechanical engineer. In short, he's a nerd. If you have any issue with reading about chemistry and actual scientific ways to deal with his problems, then I would not pick up this book. If you are someone like me and love that, then you are in for a treat. I went into this book expecting a lot more things to be going wrong the whole time, but Mark is able to engineer and think his way out of issues. He plans for the long term and how to survive for years until the next manned mission is planned to land on Mars. Andy Weir balanced the successes and failures of Mark's actions in a very realistic manner.
I would like to talk about why I marked it down half a star, but it has to do solely with how the book ended. My issue is that the story was wrapped up a little too nicely and things fit together too perfectly. Throughout the book, Weir has this nice balance of success and failure, but the ending didn't seem to follow this.
This book gave me such an appreciation for NASA and how hard people are willing to work to save the life of a fellow engineer and crew member. Everyone pulled together and worked their hardest to get him home safely, even in the face of failure and hopelessness. Towards the end, I definitely got a little emotional because of how this fictional book restored my faith in humanity. I highly recommend giving this book a read if you are a fan of science, space, and sarcasm.
Are you planning to read The Martian? or see the movie?