Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Martian - Andy Weir

Summary:  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?
  (Summary and image from

My Review:  Did you see Gravity?  Cast Away?  Did you like them?  Wish you could read more like them?  Grab this.  

Andy Weir has done an exhaustive amount of research into making this book as true-to-life as possible.  Out of necessity, it's pretty packed with science jargon, but his mastery of presentation made me forget that I have no scientific propensity at all.  It didn't hurt that the story itself was grab-you-by-the-seat-of-your-pants quick and compelling.  Combining the amazing storyline with his research has made for an excellent novel.  I can see why this has been snatched up by Hollywood!

Watney has been stranded on Mars by his crew.  It's not their fault, and he knows this.  But he also knows that he's got to survive for a few years on a year and a half of food and water.  He's also lost all communication with Earth, so even if he can eat and drink for long enough for the next team to arrive, they're scheduled to land on another part of planet ... they're not looking for him.  His resourcefulness, mistakes, and abilities will all be tested as he starts to figure out how to survive.

Weir's ability to write such a dismal, terrifying story had me in stitches.  It had my husband in stitches, since some of the log entries were so funny I had to read them to him.  Weir has masterfully balanced suspense with humor, and since this book is so ridiculously suspenseful (I think my blood pressure rose ten points every time I picked it up), the humor is not only welcome, it's absolutely necessary.  

I really loved this book.  It only took me a day and some change to read it, and it's been a long time since I begged my husband to just try reading for a bit.  (I married a non-reader.  It's a daily struggle.)  Considering how reluctant I was to pick it up (I had just finished Big Little Lies and was worried about the dreaded Good Book Hangover), I was so happy it exceeded any and all expectations I had!
My Rating: Four and a half stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  Holy language, Batman!  Watney is the class clown, and has the mouth of a sailor.  So does NASA.  Other than that, the main caution I'd offer is suspense.  Watney is alone on a planet for a year and a half.  


Jillian said...

Such an excellent novel. I loved it!

Carol said...

Great review, thank you! I have had this on my "to read" shelf since I first saw it. I really appreciate that you inform us of language, violence, sex, etc. I love to read but I really hate reading stuff that is full of profanity... so I'll have to reconsider this one even though it sounds great.

MindySue said...

So, Carol. It's been 5 years or so since your comment but I figured I'd respond just in case anyone else has the same issue. I found out there is a CLASSROOM EDITION of The Martian that takes out a lot of the language, etc. Maybe look into picking that one up!


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