Review of “The Martian” by Andy Weir

This is a tension-filled exciting story about astronaut Mark Watney, presumed dead and stranded on Mars after a vicious sandstorm forces the rest of the crew to abandon the mission and take off for Earth. Watney is only wounded, however, and manages to make his way back to temporary safety in “the Hab” or habitat constructed by the astronauts for long-term survival. Mark knows that another mission is due back to Mars in four years, but there is not enough food to last that long, and the ability to communicate by radio was lost in the storm.

the-martian-by-andy-weir

After a memorial ceremony for Watney’s death, a sharp NASA officer figures out he is alive, and the race is on for NASA to figure out how to help him before he dies of starvation (the most likely of several possible disastrous scenarios). As Watney himself sums up for us:

“If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.”

In the beginning of the book, and intermittently throughout the story, Watney goes into great detail about what he is doing to enhance his chances of survival. There is a lot of science and technology in his account (in the form of an unconventional and decidedly irreverent mission log book). One can gloss over it and still get the gist of the story, and also understand that Weir has gone to a lot of trouble (and research) to ensure that everything his character does is plausible and scientifically accurate. He also loads these passages with funny, self-deprecating and/or snarky observations so that your eyes don’t have a chance to glaze over. (At the start of the book, he describes the Ares program as “blah, blah, blah.” One could apply his same treatment to the separation of oxygen and hydrogen and nitrogen and blah, blah, blah.)

Fortunately Watney is resourceful and smart and in possession of a great sense of humor and lots of duct tape.

The story switches back and forth between Watney stuck on Mars, with nothing to watch but reruns of tv sitcoms from the 1970’s and tapes of disco music, to the NASA crew on the ground, trying to overcome funding shortages, politics, public pressure, feasibility studies, time pressures to save Watney. And always we are aware of how short the time is growing until Watney’s resources and luck will totally run out.

Evaluation: If you can read this book at a leisurely pace, or not sneak a look at the ending to alleviate some of the tension, you are a better person than I! This is a great read!

Rating: 4/5

Published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, 2014

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14 Responses to Review of “The Martian” by Andy Weir

  1. sandynawrot says:

    I absolutely loved this book, even though it is totally not my “thing”. Weir was sciency enough to give it total cred, but I could still follow it because the narrator was such a down-to-earth character. You know it is in development right now, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon? Didn’t take them long to spot a winner.

  2. This doesn’t sound like my usual fare, but I want to read it!

  3. I’ve been seeing this book around and didn’t think it would appeal to me…until I read your review. I’m finally adding this to my TBR list!

  4. Heather says:

    This is completely not the kind of thing I normally read either but you make it sound so compelling! I’ve been looking for a super fast-paced novel too … I might just have to check it out.

  5. Jenny says:

    I sneaked a look at the ending! In fact that was the first thing I did – I didn’t even read far enough to get a sense of the characters etc., just flipped to the end as soon as I had the book in my hands. I just had to know if he survived or not.

  6. Rita K says:

    Jill. Going to read this. Sounds terrific!

  7. BermudaOnion says:

    Fiction Addiction did a “trust-fall” promotion with this book – if you didn’t love it, they’d give you your money back. A friend of mine bought it and both she and her husband loved it. She’s lent it to me but I haven’t gotten to it yet. Last week was horrendous and I think I read 20 pages all week.

  8. Athira says:

    The husband and I started listening to this yesterday during our road trip and are only halfway through but love the book so far. It is so hilarious!

  9. stacybuckeye says:

    I was not interested when I first started seeing this one, but I’ve seen a few reviews the last few days, yours included, that have me excited about it.

  10. Trish says:

    Did you have to sneak a peek ahead? 😉 I’ve heard GREAT things about this one. Glad you enjoyed it as well. I wouldn’t have picked it up based on title or cover (I know, snobby Trish) but all the buzz is sure hard to beat.

  11. Care says:

    Great review.

  12. Yeah this is definitely not a leisurely pace kind of book. I thought it was a lot of fun – a great modern sci-fi adventure.

  13. Ti says:

    I got a library ebook of this but they sent me the wrong version, not the Kindle version so I could not read it. That made me very sad since I was on the wait list for so long. I will get to it at some point.

  14. Well maybe I should read this one. I have been reading about it and reading about it….

    Might be something good for the summer.

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