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.
Let me begin by commending the adaptation of this novel to the big screen! The Martian (movie) was one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever seen – it was wonderfully done.
Now onto the review.
The Martian is a charming book.
Unlike some science fiction novels, The Martian has a great balance of humor to scientific mumbo jumbo. Although there is a great amount of science-talk and mathematical calculations that can be distracting at first, it gets easier as the novel progresses.
Since it’s easy for a novel centered around a singular character alone on a desolate planet to be quite boring and dreadfully detailed (like A Princess of Mars), it really surprised me how entertaining this story was. However, if I’m being honest, this is largely due to Mark Watney, our protagonist, who is hilarious!
“I am smiling a great smile. The smile of a man who fucked with his car a didn’t break it.” – Mark Watney, The Martian
Mark Watney is our Martian. After being stranded on Mars by his NASA crewmates – who believe him to be dead – Mark Watney must survive the harsh environment of Mars until he can be rescued. He goes through many trial and errors whilst on the planet, and also beats the odds of the world’s expectations of life on Mars. But here’s the cool part — Mark Watney is a fucking Botanist!
That’s how I imagined it….
For me, the idea of a badass botanist “colonizing” an uninhabited planet is the ultimate allure. He’s like Rocky (in Rocky I) except he’s victorious over Mars (isn’t it funny how Apollo Creed was his competitor, and Apollo was the missions to the moon…anybody…just me?). Basically, The last person the world would expect to survive the mental and physical purgatory of Mars would be Watney – to that he says
Suffice it to say, Mark Watney’s résumé would be lit!
In addition to Watney’s awesomeness, the format of this novel is wonderful. Since our setting is mostly restricted to Mars with Watney as our sole source of entertainment the format of video logs (transcribed obviously) of his everyday life, problems, and problem solving on Mars was the way to go.
This book would be something I consider scientific realism. Although we’ve never had maned missions to Mars, it’s something that’s in the near future, so it’s not like a Killjoys, Star Trek, Star Wars, Dark Matter kinda science fiction – there’s no hyperspace and galaxy jumping action. This will appeal sci-fi lovers and in-betweener’s because it’s very realistic. I’d also recommend this novel for emerging sci-fi fans because it’s not too outrageous.
My one issue with The Martian was the lack of a psychological conflict. There were a few times it’s hinted at and even expressed, but not in depth. Being stranded on a different planet with the ability to communicate with Earth only through a computer screen — not to mention the daily struggles of mars-life for over a year would cause some serious psychological damage. To me, Watney was too, okay.
There are many different components that made this great, but to truly understand the hype you gotta read it!