Novel: The Martian by Andy Weir
Published: February 11th 2014 by Crown
Rating: 5/5 stars
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Synopsis: 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?
“I started the day with some nothin’ tea. Nothin’ tea is easy to make. First, get some hot water, then add nothin’. I experimented with potato skin a few weeks ago. The less said about that the better.”
I’ll spend the rest of the evening enjoying a potato. And by “enjoying” I mean “hating so much I want to kill people”.
The Martian is a title I’ve been seeing everywhere for quite some time now. It has won awards -as well as a Goodreads Choice Award for 2014. And then I heard that it was being adapted into a movie, with Matt Damon as Mark Watney. I watched the movie trailer and knew that I would want to see it when it got released. But being a book lover, I always strive to read the book first. That’s exactly what I did. And let me tell you, this book deserved each and every star of my 5-star rating.
First of all, I want to say that I don’t read a lot of science-fiction. I’m a huge fantasy fan, but scifi just doesn’t have the same appeal to me. So I was quite nervous about this book. Would I actually enjoy it? I’m so glad I tried it though! It’s incredible. Even if you don’t generally read the genre, I would recommend this to you.
Watney’s story is told through Sol Logs- logs he keeps every day about his survival. A sol is a “day” on Mars by the way, which took me a while to figure out.
Mark Watney is part of the Ares 3 crew -a group of astronauts being sent to Mars. Mark is the botanist and engineer on board, as each member has their strengths to add to the team. However, a few days into their mission, a huge sandstorm starts. Because the MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle) can only take so much wind, the crew needs to perform an emergency take off, before their equipment to do so breaks. During their struggle in the storm, Watney gets stabbed by a satellite probe and falls. His suit, which keeps track of his vitals shows that he has no pulse and so the crew can’t do anything but take off. Only, Mark isn’t dead. At least, not yet. He is however, stuck on MArs. Everyone believes him to be dead. This is the story of Mark Watney, trying to survive on Mars, alone.
I really enjoyed this story! It was gripping and so much fun to read -mostly because I love his humour. I have to admit that most of the science stuff -the chemistry explanations mostly- went completely over my head. I just read it, nodded and moved on. If you say so, Mark Watney. At first, I was afraid that it would take away from my enjoyment of the story. Because it’s quite something to read about all those engineering/botanist explanations without understanding almost anything. But it didn’t. In fact, I was interested in it!
His journey on Mars was so captivating to me. I’m also very aware that I would have died on day 1. But he’s working so hard on several big plans: the first one is to try and communicate to Earth that he is in fact very much alive and stuck on a different planet, and the second is to create enough food to survive until a possible rescue mission could be set up. Which could take years.
So he starts planning! Trying to build a potato farm, securing the Hab where he’s living, calculating how many times the space suits can spend outside, creating water so he doesn’t die of dehydration. And every so often, something goes completely wrong. Even though those fail-moments happened quite often, I didn’t often feel like “He’s really going to die now….” which is quite sad, as it would have added to the whole survival feel of the novel. Another tiny remark I have is that I didn’t feel like that much time had passed. Because we follow him for quite some time, I would have expected more character development or change -even though he is completely alone and abandoned. But that’s just a tiny remark.
Another aspect of this book I loved, is that you get both Mars’ POV and Earth’s. We get to read from several high-powered people at NASA, and Mark’s crew as well. This added so much to the novel, because without it, you would just be guessing at what was happening on Earth. And while that’s exactly how Mark felt, I was grateful for the other point-of-views. It added another dimension to this novel, in my opinion.
Overall, I highly recommend this novel. Even if you don’t like science-fiction, or haven’t really read any. I would still urge you to pick this up. I was in your situation too, but I ended up loving it!