Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Who’s it for? Adults
What’s it about? I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Earth. I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days.
If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If non of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.
So yeah. I’m screwed.[Blurb taken from book]
What’s good about it? Mark Watney is a great character. There’s an air of ‘I’m half-arsing everything’ to a chunk of his actions that hide the fact he is just very, very intelligent. Which makes sense given that he (and the rest of the Hermes crew) are highly trained astronauts drilled over and over again until complex processes become second nature. Also he’s just really funny:
[p.64, The Martian]
Log entry: Sol 61
How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.
I admit. I laughed for a really long time at this point.
Given the plot, it would’ve been really easy to have Mark be miserable all the time. I mean, it’s pretty damn impressive that he’s not a gibbering wreck. His will to survive is really something and it makes for a great story to read. His entries were my favourite parts of the book (followed by the sections on the Hermes crew, because they were just fabulous).
SPACE! MARS! LIVING ON MARS!! SPACE!!! Ahem. Love space.
What’s bad about it? Some sections are a little info-dumpy. Mark is keeping a log presumably for NASA, who probably wouldn’t exactly have the intern reading it once they found it…so why explain so much of what he’s doing in layman’s terms? Plot-wise it’s useful so the reader doesn’t get lost in a sea of mathematics and science but at points it was a little info-dumpy.
The verdict? I’m going to make a confession here. I committed a bookworm sin. I watched the film first.
And it was a great film by the way.
And I think…I think…I enjoyed the film more.
However! This is not to say that the book’s not good! It’s a genuinely good read. Mark Watney is a great character, fiercely intelligent, a consummate survivor and very funny, the plot is quite intense and it moves along at a good pace. It’s definitely worth a read – I’d read it before watching the film though (don’t follow my terrible example).