Author(s): Andy Weir
Published by Broadway Books on 02/11/2014
Genres: Science Fiction
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Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.
It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission 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 get him first.
But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This is the obvious analogy, but The Martian by Andy Weir is Robin Caruso in space, on steroids and jacked up on laughing gas. This book sits in a weird place between straight fiction and science fiction. Or rather it is science fiction but much closer to the science end then fiction end.
This book doesn’t follow the standard narrative structure, and that really works for it. Three fourths of the story is told through journal entries by the protagonist because, with the exception of a few portions of the book, he has no contacts with anyone else. Most of the story happens through Watney’s inner monologue which sounds like a bad thing but really works. When the story does switch to other characters and a more normal story structure all I wanted was for it to get back to Watney and his journal.
The character of Mark Watney is really what makes this book work so well. He is quite possibly the most charming and entertaining characters I have read in a long time. I am sure those not plugged into geek culture might find his references and tone somewhat off-putting, but for geeky science lovers he is exactly the kind of person you want to be friends with. The jokes in this book work well although I suppose they are targeted at a particular generation. Much younger readers might not get a lot of the references. The rest of the characters are fine but this is such an insular story that they really have no effect on the book one way or the other.
For a book told through journal entries the entire thing is surprisingly fast paced. A lot happens to Watney in this book and a lot of obstacles are thrown in his way. There are definite edge of the seat moments where you are glued to the book to find out what is going to happen. There is also a lot of science in here, but it isn’t presented in a dry or boring way. I can see how those who don’t enjoy at science, or at least the theory if not actual science, might be off put by this. But what Weir manages to do is present all this science in a narrative way that never bogs down.
I read and reviewed a lot of books and by a clear margin this is the best book I have read this year. The tone is just right, the main character is completely likable and it is the definition of a page turner. Andy Weir has really created something amazing here and should be commended. I would recommend this book to everyone I know. It is whatever level comes above being a must read.
Review by Travis Starnes