With some Christmas money, one of my purchases was The Martian. I had heard about it for a while now but finally got around to buying and reading it in the last few months. The premise sounded intriguing, and I love space movies so wanting to see this movie, made me want to read the book first (cause you know, the book is almost always better, am I right?).
Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Published: February 11, 2014
Format I Read: Paperback
Synopsis: Due to an unexpected sandstorm that forced his crew to evacuate their mission, Mark Watney is now trapped on Mars. He is alone with no means of communication, and his crew believes he is dead. Luckily, Mark is resourceful, but only time will tell if his ingenuity will be able to keep him alive until the next expedition returns in four years.
Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. One of the quotes on the back cover said it was like Cast Away but on Mars. Luckily, I did not see the parallels (other than the obvious one) because I did not like that movie. Mark is a very likable, and this is important when your main character is alone and does the majority of his talking with himself. He has a dry, quirky sense of humor that aligns you immediately with his plight. You really want this guy to survive. The story is told in a back and forth way between Mark on Mars, NASA technicians on Earth, and the rest of his crew aboard their space station. I liked seeing all of the story, and not just Mark’s point of view.
A lot of Mark’s parts in the book are him trying to figure out how to fix things, how to readjust things, and how to make things last until the next crew arrives. Fair warning, there is a LOT of math in this book. Enough math that I told my math-hating husband to steer clear. I am not a math person either, but I was able to read most of it, and then I would just skim over some of the more math-y parts when I got lost in the numbers. Unless you really, really dislike numbers of any kind, don’t let it deter you. It is interesting to hear him work out solutions to the problems that are trying to kill him (and to realize that if I’m ever left to rely on my math abilities to save my life, I will be all sorts of dead).
While watching the movie (which I’ll get to in a moment), Brad made an interesting comment stating that The Martian is not really science fiction, more just science. I totally agree. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything here when I say there are no monsters, ghosts, Martian vampires, or evil alien beings in this novel. It truly is about the science of getting an astronaut back from Mars. Granted, being trapped alone on a planet where you could die of any number of causes (starvation, lack of oxygen, giant sandstorms, -100 degree temperatures) can be just as terrifying as evil aliens. Perhaps even more so at times because these are situations in which we can easily place ourselves. We’ve all experienced cold and hunger. Not as many of us have experienced Martian vampires. Yet.
Lucky for you it’s a two-for-one deal today, folks, as I’m talking about the movie as well. Matt Damon did a great job portraying Watney. He was relatable and smart while still showing some of the sense of humor that comes through in the book. The movie actually stuck fairly close to the book except for a few parts at the end. One part was a fairly major departure from the book, but it didn’t hurt the movie or make it less enjoyable. Of course, I recommend the book since it gives you details and story that the movie does not have time to cover, but if you just watch the movie, you’re not doing yourself a huge disservice as you are with some book to movie translations.
Overall, if you enjoy space and science (and even math, hey, I have heard there are people who enjoy it), The Martian will be worth your reading time.