Author: Andy Weir
Publication Date: February 11, 2014
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Length: 369 pages
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 and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, 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.
Grounded in real, present-day science from the first page to the last, yet propelled by a brilliantly ingenious plot that surprises the reader again and again, The Martian is a truly remarkable thriller: an impossible-to-put-down suspense novel that manages to read like a real-life survival tale.
After beginning (but not finishing) the movie version during an Astronomy class, I couldn't wait to see what would happen next for the stranded astronaut on Mars, Mark Watney.
Here's how the book wonderfully begins:
"I'm pretty much fucked.
That's my considered opinion.
Glorious, isn't it?
Mark Watney's straight-up, frank language totally got me hooked from the first page. Here was a guy stranded on Mars, yet he could still, somehow, find humor in the situation. Watney practically embodied the definition of "cool, calm, and collected." And at first, I found this strange lack of emotion to be, well, strange. However, my Astronomy teacher later told the class that astronauts are partly, specifically chosen for their unique personalities. NASA would choose someone like Mark Watney who, (unlike the rest of the human population), wouldn't freak out after being stranded on a desolate planet. Watney's character read much better after that clarification.
So, I definitely liked the main guy, Mark Watney. But here's what I wasn't too fond of: the actual science. Sure, I admire how accurate the author was about everything, and I understand that this is a science fiction book, but you can't help but zone out after reading page after page of monotonous scientific facts and concepts being spewed out at you. Not being the science wiz myself, I often had to reread passages to actually understand what in the world was going on. I appreciated and enjoyed some of this awesome "science stuff" to an extent, but after a while, I began to lose interest. If it wasn't for the movie, I wouldn't have taken the effort to toil through this book. I mean sure, I liked the cover and the concept, but if you actually scrutinized the writing itself, it wasn't anything wonderful.
To break up the stagnant writing, Weir employed usage of different viewpoints -- a great addition to the story. Not only did readers get a taste of Mark Watney's viewpoint while stranded on Mars, but also NASA personnel's back home on our beloved blue orb, and the rest of Watney's crew aboard the Hermes spacecraft. I reveled in these periodic breaks from the dusty Martian landscape, and the usage of these multiple viewpoints significantly aided the progress of the story.
Overall, I enjoyed The Martian, but I wouldn't read it again. It's a bit too "science-y" for me to fully comprehend.