The Martian is an engaging book that hooks you from the very beginning, but also celebrates the ingenuity, tenacity, and determination of man to survive.
I don’t read a lot of science fiction books. In fact this is one of the first ones I have ever read and I’m glad because I liked it a lot and I think that this book will stay with me for some time in the future. If Mark Watney can survive on Mars alone by himself for almost 2 years, I should never complain about what I need to do.
The story is about Mars’ astronauts, the third group of astronauts to visit Mars, and a man left behind. There was an accident on the surface of Mars and a crew member was knocked unconscious. His vital signs were not registering and the rest of the crew had to get off the planet because of a dangerous sand storm that was about to make them all be stuck on Mars. Making the right decision, they left Mark Watney, because they believed him to be dead, and saved the entire crew.
Watney was able to make it back to the structure that housed the astronauts on Mars and make repairs to his space suit. Realizing he was probably pronounced dead, his focus now is to survive. Using ingenious chemistry, physics, botany, and many other scientific fields this mechanical engineer and botanist was able to grow his own food on Mars, and repair every issue that came up. His goal was to contact earth, and survive long enough to be picked up 3 years from then by the next Mar’s mission.
The people on earth found out that he was still alive and the entire world is turned towards watching the news about Watney. Everyone is pulling for him and the world comes together in a time of crisis to try to save Mark. So basically it is a mixture between Cast Away and The Truman Show. Everyone gets updates on how he is doing and what he is doing but no one can really do anything for him until much later.
This book is a relatively easy read. There is a lot of science being explained, especially Watney trying to figure out how to fix or accomplish a goal, but it is never over the reader’s head. I’m not that big of a science nerd and I understood almost all of the science jargon. The delight of the book is Watney figuring out all of these work arounds. It is like reading a McGuyver astronaut and it is highly entertaining. It is highly uplifting to the reader to read about a brilliant man using his brain to survive but doing it with such a great attitude. Mark is updating his progress with logs on Mars and there are only a few moments when Mark acts defeated but the vast majority of the time he is so optimistic that the reader can’t help but really like him. Because we see something in him that we all want, real optimism and intelligence, our connection to Watney is what makes us keep reading.
Andy Weir wrote this book and had it for free on his website when it started out. He then self published the book making it one of the best selling self published books available. Broadway Books then published the book themselves and now there is even a movie on the way. Weir is a science nerd and you can tell he really loved writing this book. The fixes that Watney made when problems arose were ingenious and that came from Weir. However, even though Weir wrote some amazing science stuff in this book, the actual writing has a lot to be desired. The parts in the book that were at Nasa weren’t the best parts in the book. They contained a cast of characters that the reader really didn’t care about and the writing seemed off a little bit. I think this is because Weir did a good job writing in the first person, from Watney’s log statuses, but struggled some with the third person writing. Watney’s crew members were written much better though and their personalities were engaging. More interpersonal relationships between the people on the ground would have helped a lot.
This was a fun read that I enjoyed exceedingly. It was not a perfect novel by any stretch of the imagination but it was entertaining. Watney will come to your mind in the future after reading this book. In that regards, it does more than a lot of other books do, it stays with you. When things are looking bad just think about how bad things must of looked for Watney. When Watney could of had a pity party he worked instead. We have so much to be thankful for in life and we could all be more like Mark Watney at times.