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February 25, 2014 / Leslie

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy WeirThe Martian
by Andy Weir

Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Crown
Publish Date: February 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover | 384 pages
Rating: 5 of 5

Publisher’s Synopsis:

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 while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

My Thoughts:

A lot of people hear the words ‘hard science’ and immediately lose interest because they think it will be boring or difficult to follow the plot. To be honest, The Martian does have a significant amount of science detail, but it is written in an easy to read, engaging manner, and it’s a necessary part of the story. Like Apollo 13, this is a riveting adventure about survival in space, overcoming obstacles and finding a way back home.

The story opens on Mars as Mark Watney realizes he is alone. His crewmates believed he had been killed during an accident while evacuating the planet. There had been no time to retrieve his body and still safely launch their vehicle into orbit ahead of the severe storm. Mark knows he must find a way to communicate with NASA – they think he’s dead and the Mars habitat’s communication system was destroyed – and to stay alive, possibly for years, until he can be rescued.

Mark is a very resourceful guy. We follow his progress through his daily log entries. He needs food, water, power, shelter, transportation and the ability to make repairs. At times he’s so resourceful that I began to think of him as MacGyver and that he would conquer Mars with duct tape, a swiss army knife and a paper clip! Meanwhile, back at mission control on earth, someone observing satellite images of Mars believes that Mark might still be alive. As the story alternates between mission control and earth, it’s a race against time to save Mark.

The writing is smart, funny and filled with witty dialog and humor. It’s obvious the author did a lot of research, and got it right. I have a background in science so I was thrilled with the detail, however not understanding the science does not prevent the reader from enjoying the book. This is a story about Mark, one guy against a planet, and the team of people who are taking risks to save him. In some ways it reminded me of the movie Castaway and what one individual can and will do to survive.

Not sure you’ll like this? Read an excerpt, borrow it from the library, but do give it a try. Yes, I’m recommending it for everyone and not just because it’s one of my favorite books of the year.

About the author:
There is an interesting article in Salon by the author, a self-described space nerd who studied orbital dynamics as a hobby. He talks about the book and how science made him a better writer.

Source: Review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
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Leave a Comment
  1. Suko / Feb 25 2014 4:18 pm

    Leslie, I don’t “mind” the science part, and this does sound good! I haven’t read (or listened to) any books with such a setting before!


  2. BermudaOnion / Feb 25 2014 4:56 pm

    My local bookstore did a “trust fail” promotion with this book and will refund your money if you don’t like the book. Between them and you, I guess I have to give it a try.


    • Leslie / Feb 25 2014 5:14 pm

      You probably won’t love it the way I did, but I think you’ll enjoy it. I can see why your bookstore would offer a money-back guarantee. If people can get past the “scifi” label they will be treated to a great story.


  3. Sue / Feb 28 2014 4:25 pm

    Sounds like a book I would like. Thanks for the review.


  4. stacybuckeye / Mar 10 2014 10:43 am

    Wow! I’m putting this on my list right now. It’s been a long time since I read great sci-fi.



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