Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Format / Length: Paperback / 369 Pages
Publisher / Date Published: Del Rey / August 2014
Category / Genre: Adult / Science Fiction
| THE MARTIAN on Goodreads |
Description: 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 & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long 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 isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
If you combine science, with witty humour, a breathtaking (heh — GET IT?) plot, you’ve got The Martian by Andy Weir. This was, simply put, one of my favourite reads I’ve had the delight of coming across this year. And hey, if you’ve seen some of my favourite books this year, you’ll know that’s tough competition to deal with.
I have something to confess right now.
I ADORE anything space-related. Stars. Planets. Black holes. Aliens. In fact, my little space-y heart is positively squealing of NASA’s recent Earth 2.0 news. But I’ll also say that I’m not entirely well-read in science fiction. Compared to dystopia, there’s a definitely lack of science fiction novels in the YA area (something which, with the growing interested in novels such as These Broken Stars, Illuminae [which isn’t even out yet — but still, there’s a fair share of hype surrounding it], I hope changes.) I really have no clue why it took me so, so long for me to pick this one up. I’d forgotten about it. But with the recent hype of the movie, I snagged a copy at my library and DEVOURED it. Love, love, love, love.
Why did I love this one so much?
Our main character, Mark Watney, is abandoned on Mars after his crew believes him dead, and in essence, The Martian is a survival story. One of the things that struck out to me was just how BRILLIANTLY the author had done his research. And, all right, so perhaps I don’t really know a thing about Mars, and while some of storyline was dramatised, I’m positive most of what is given to us is rooted in fact. There were plenty of detailed — although not boring — descriptions that furthered the believability of the novel along nicely.
Main characters are tricky little beasts.
I find myself not liking the majority of main characters I read about, but then there are some of those rare gems — like Mark Watney — who you just like from the first page. Couple his determination to get off the planet with his wit, humour, and ingenuity, and you’ve got a protagonist I’ll both connect with AND like. Case in point:
I can’t wait till I have grandchildren. “When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!”
- “Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
- I thought a laptop would be fine outside. It’s just electronics, right? It’ll keep warm enough to operate in the short term, and it doesn’t need air for anything. It died instantly. The screen went black before I was out of the airlock. Turns out the “L” in “LCD” stands for “Liquid.” I guess it either froze or boiled off. Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”
I found myself growing quite fond of the way The Martian was written, too. There were 1) Mark Watney’s log entries, b) and the third-person narration of his crew back on Hermes and NASA back on earth.
AND THE TENSION. Because obviously, everything and anything that could go wrong on Mars — went wrong. Everything was filled with so much loaded tension you. Just. Kept. Turning. The. Pages.