Review: The Martian by Andy Weir
Published February 11th 2014 by Crown
Received as a gift
After a long period of going back and forth I decided that yes, I did want to give The Martian a try. Usually I am not a fan of books being limited to one person in isolation somewhere, because let’s face it, survival can be quite boring. But since The Martian was turned into quite a successful movie, and it received quite some attention from the mainstream, I put it on my wishlist.
Mark Watney is part of a mission to perform tests on Mars. Disaster strikes, and Mark is left hurt and all alone on Mars, while his team mates and everyone else in the world, for that matter, assume him dead. The next Mars-bound mission is scheduled in five years. Can he survive that long in a hostile environment?
The Martian is basically Robinson Crusoe in space without the racism. This similarity touches on what I see as the weakest aspect of the book – the fact that entirely too much time is spent on Mark’s day to day survival. He tells us about his potatoes. He tells us about his machines. He tells us more about the potatoes. What was missing for me was any psychological insight into the mind of Watney. We barely get any sense of what he actually thinks about – unless he truly does only have potatoes on his mind? That part of the story fell flat for me, and often I felt Watney’s chapters were as dry as the dusty surface of Mars.
On the bright side, The Martian comes with a healthy dose of witticisms and quips, and there are plenty of exciting life-threatening situations for Watney to overcome. Additionally, after a while additional points of view are added to the story, which makes it move along faster and breaks the possible monotony of Mark’s potato farming.
At times The Martian felt very much like a debut – the writing isn’t always as smooth as it should be, and there was a lack of psychological depth. Ultimately though, it is a fun and light-hearted science-fiction novel that appeals to a wide public.
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, 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’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.