A Review of The Martian, by Andy Weir

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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 & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue 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 kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Rating: 5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: awesome, easy-to-read science fiction; a unique, intriguing story; Castaway-esque plot (minus the Wilson; unfortunately, no volleyballs were maimed in the making of this novel); I held my breath through literally all of this read and I honestly think that says more about it than any words I could put here

Going in to this read, I heard our main protagonist–Mark Watney–was a whiny, petulant, self-involved character.  I heard a lot of people didn’t like him because of this.  I heard it made this a hard book to get into.

Having just finished, I feel I can officially say:  I don’t agree.  At all.

This is the first strictly sci fi novel I’ve read in…a LONG time.  Being an English major who was pretty terrible at anything science, I tend to not read books that are ONLY sci fi…because I’m afraid I won’t understand them.  I always forget, somehow, that sci fi doesn’t always MEAN only science.  Obviously, human nature plays a role (unless your characters are robots, in which case…well, you get the point).

The characters of this novel were a bit difficult to get a grasp on at first, I’ll admit it.  I’m pretty sure the reason for this is, obviously, we begin with Mark Watney stranded on Mars after a very complicated turn of events.  At first, we only really get Mark’s perspective…and to be honest, throughout the entirety of this novel, I feel as if I only really ever CONNECTED with Mark.  Because, obviously, HE’s the most important part of this story.  HE’s the one we stay with longest, see the most of, and take this journey with.  Now, I’m not saying the other characters are flat.  They’re very far from it.  Andy Weir managed, in short bursts and small sections, to give us insight into each and every character we’re introduced to.  But the deepest connection lies with Mark; I think that’s really the best way to have gone about a story like this, honestly.  I don’t think the story would be the same if it were written otherwise.

That being said… I don’t think I’ve EVER held my breath so much during ONE book in my life.  This was nerve-wracking from page one, jumping straight into the dire-straights and not letting up until the VERY last page.  There is no breathing room.  It’s as if Andy Weir took the lack of oxygen on Mars and wrapped it around each word, slowly incapacitating readers with fist-clenching, lip-biting fear.  And I did a lot of both those things during this read, so I would know.

The science aspect isn’t nearly as intimidating as it might seem, either.  Mark is a sarcastic, smart-ass, wise-cracking character…and he mixes his knowledge with so much sass, you’ll be learning even as you laugh.  I disagree with people who call him whiny; he’s not. He’s stranded, ALONE, on Mars…with very limited supplies and the very REAL chance that he could die at any second.  So if he does sometimes get a little dramatic, if he does sometimes start his entries talking about how he’s about to die only to turn around and let readers know everything’s A-okay…well, what would YOU do in that situation?  Probably the same thing.

This book is a beautiful exploration of the things one single person can accomplish under the most stressful, intense situations.  We are ALL capable of accomplishing impossible things if we need to; this novel helps readers to realize that.  I highly recommend this read to lovers of sci fi, speculative fiction, and space journeys.  Pick it up!  You won’t regret it.

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