Book Review: The Martian

Posted February 2, 2015 by Lyn Kaye in book review, Lyn / 7 Comments

Book Review: The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
Published by Crown Publishing on February 11th, 2014
Genres: adult, science fiction
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Apollo 13 meets Cast Away in this grippingly detailed, brilliantly ingenious man-vs-nature survival thriller, set on the surface of Mars.

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 need to give three cheers for Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings – her review sold me on this book. No lie. I didn’t even know this book existed until she reviewed it. I actually bought it for my sister, since she is the space geek. She enjoyed it, and told me that it was at least fun to read.

A short time later, this book began to populate Book World Online. It landed some movie rights, and the list of actors really shocked me – Matt Damon and Sean Bean?! I’m there.

It was up for awards on various sites. A few people began to quietly chatter about this novel.

Ready to break out of the ordinary and into something new and a bit different, I finally gave in to the growing hype and gave this book a chance. I shall now go back in time and slap Past Lyn in the face for not reading this sooner.

You want fun, science, geekery and a totally awesome guy? Snag this sucker.

border

 

Best. Quote. Ever.

“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”

 

 

 

Characters: The book is mostly centered on Mark and his involuntary vacation on Mars. There are other parts in the novel that come out of the diary-style storytelling, but it is mainly Mark that is running the show. It is tough for one character to carry an entire plot, so the writing gods gave us secondary characters. However, Weir is made of magic and snark. He creates a character that just can’t be helped but to be loved.  Smart, squirrelly and over-the-top humorous, Mark Watney snags the driver’s seat and takes you on one heck of a ride. The story would have quickly fallen flat without his special touch of eccentric and contagious humor. Read this away from civilization – you’re going to end up laughing and slapping the table. It would be wise to warn everyone now that your heart is going to be stolen. Watney and his geeky and secretly enticing charm takes no prisoners.

Empty your soul and give me all your fangirling.

The only issue I faced with the secondary characters, who seemed slightly unremarkable was that the entire cast used humor, which undermined Mark’s own wit.

Yeah, Science! The author goes DEEP into the science behind most of the dilemmas in his novel, including traveling in space, living on a foreign planet, and making potatoes grow with human feces.

Some of it made sense, some of it was right over my head.  There is a lot of tech talk in the novel. I did feel lost at some points, but it wasn’t so bad where I felt like I was left behind–just a little clueless.  There was enough non-astronaut science to keep me well grounded.

Another strong point of the novel was the realism of the dangers and solutions in the world building. I have a fondness for space exploration and realistic interplanetary theories, and this book fit the bill. The author didn’t just look up some articles on the internet and call his research done for the day. There is some real science in this novel. Even though Packing for Mars by Mary Roach wasn’t my favorite book, I did glean some highly interesting information from the text. If you read the two books together, you do see the issues and possible resolutions matching up.  Some of Weir’s ideas were just flat-out genius and inventive, such as the supply issue and mechanics of the interplanetary vehicles.

Real World Building. To rescue the stranded newly deemed Martian, many ethical questions are raised, and the politics and the morality of the situation mirrored some of the same questions we ask ourselves about current situations. Are the favors called in to rescue one man worth the future debt? Is it worth the strained budget and resources to save just one person, a person who voluntarily placed himself at risk when he took the job? Is it okay to admit that a successful rescue mission is a great sales pitch? Is it insensitive to use “scientific study of a long-term resident of Mars” as a viable excuse to rescue someone? Can an agency allow other people under high stress and emotional baggage to be a part of the decision-making process? Even in the middle of a near-comedy routine, the author still allows some space for intellectual and social discussion to come and play as well.

Totally Nerds. Lord of the Rings references make me squeal. I also have never taken this much interest in potato farming. Yes, this might sound like a boring, horrible plot device, but you’re going to end up secretly falling for Mars FarmVille.

Peer Pressure. I am not sure when it happened, but during the last part of the year, I seemed to become disconnected emotionally from books.  Reading The Martian constantly opened flood gates of various emotions and real feelings from me. It is very easy to get lost in this novel from different perspectives. From Mark, the audience is teetering between survive or die, and on the flip side, as a passive viewer, holding your breath with every new detail and turn.

Humor Me. I have to point this out again: the humor in this novel is top-shelf writing. I swear I highlighted half the book with quotes ranging anywhere from human feces to Iron Man to profanity-laced views on life.

This book absolutely slayed me.

Instead of arrows, imagine jokes.

Overall

The Martian has earned the praise that is being heaped on the novel. Funny, witty, oddly intellectual and downright  fun, The Martian isn’t a novel to ignore or pass over. For anyone needing a break from sappy-sweet romances and proper, clean sarcasm, this book is a treat for readers looking for something with a little more bite, a little more moral, and a little more science.

lyn

7 responses to “Book Review: The Martian

  1. Gosh, I could buy this book just for that spazzy cover alone. I mean, lone astronaut dancing in a sea of sand? I WANT THAT COVER ON MY WALL. But back to the review — so happy you liked this one, Lyn! I think I saw one other review for it, and it sounded pretty promising too. And you know. Sci-fi geek right here.

    Yeah, one major thing I’m always afraid about in those REALLY sciencey-sounding books is that they may get too technical and I won’t be able to enjoy it because I won’t be able to understand it in the first place. But I’m glad that for the most part, you were able to grasp the science terms here. Have you read Parasite by Mira Grant? I kind of felt the same way you did when I read that book. I understood some stuff, but at times, the book got so full of science terms that I just skimmed over it and tried to grasp the situation through a different way. But seriously… growing potatoes with human feces? WHY ARE WE NOT DOING THIS ALREADY?

    I love it when books explore not only the immediate consequences of creating a new world (what kind of people, the scenery, etc.), but also when they delve deeper and tackle the ethical issues as well. And I really like how far The Martian goes with this! It would really make the setting all the more believable.

    HELL YES, LOTR REFERENCES AND JOKES. Do I need this book now? Yes, I need this book now. Awesome review, Lyn!
    Megan recently posted…This Month: January 2015My Profile

  2. Jenny

    Yeah, I haven’t heard of this one either. That’s why I love book blogging. I might have missed out on so many great books. Thanks for the heads up on this one.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge