The Martian by Andy Weir

Summary

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.

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.

But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.

But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

Characters

Mark Watney is a dick. I don’t know how many times I said that throughout the book, but I know it was enough that it felt like the truest theme of the book. A hilarious dick, I will give him that. You spend lots of time in Mark’s company throughout the book so you better like him at least a little. He is a great and vivid character. The supporting characters fell way behind on the spotlight time but were great supporting characters. Mitch is hilariously jerky as well. Commander Lewis is noble. Vogel is a conflicted leader. They all have a role to play.

Plot

Mark is stuck on Mars. The entire world gets behind one person, spends oodles of dollars and puts others at risk because that is the ‘good’ side of humanity. That every life matters. Even if the author didn’t intend this to be a theme, it shone through for me; right up there with the human will to live and the ingenuity to survive. It was an impressive book but you have to like the level of detail that the author goes into on what Mark does to survive. Also the jumping back and forth between Mark and the characters one earth and the rest of the crew on Hermes, is pretty easy to follow.

Overall

This is set up in two ways; a normal 3rd point of view and journal entries. It brings the fact that Mark is stuck on Mars all that more real. I thought it was an interesting dynamic to swing back and forth between. That being said I hated the ominous snippets before something ‘bad’ happened to Mark. They were weird narrations that felt unnecessary and were disruptive to me. I enjoyed most of the narrations by Mark but some of them made me sigh because they became repetitive and after a while the pattern of things that were going to happen became predictable. The ending could easily be disappointing to most – it felt abrupt to me but I was content with it.

Rating

4 stars

The overall predictability and sometimes repetitive nature of the book didn’t diminish my like of it too much. It is still a good science fiction and well worth the read. This book is hilarious and I agree that duct tape is truly the best invention ever!

I’m wondering now if the movie is better…I’ll update this later…

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