The Martian


A few months ago, on the last stretch of the drive home from our SF roadtrip, Alan put on one of his audiobooks-The Martian. It was quirky and humorous and we only got about a chapter or two into it. I didn’t know at the time about the book’s rising popularity or that the movie is coming out this October, but it had a distinct voice. So when I stumbled across the pdf online during my lunch break at work, I figured why not? Let this be my new break book. It only lasted me two days. Probably would have been less than half a day if I wasn’t reading between work ha! Truth is, it’s an easy read. The premise is pretty simple. Astronaut gets left behind by team on Mars and has to survive in clever, resourceful ways. The story is presented in a mix of logs from Mark Watney, the aforementioned stranded astronaut, and third-person narration of the base in Houston.

I read a lot of reviews after finishing that complained about the book’s lack of tension or Mark Watney’s unbelievable brevity. It’s all valid. The writing isn’t the most sophisticated and there’s no gut-wrenching moments of desolation. There’s a heavy amount of technical writing tossed with bad jokes and at times immature narration. But at the same time, it was still a really fun read and I enjoyed every bit of Watney’s journey to survive.

I think it’s a matter of expectation. If you’re looking for a Gravity/Interstellar approach to sci-fi that makes you question all these things about the durability of the human spirit, then yeah. Chances are you’ll be a little disappointed. But if you want to see how a smart-ass, goof of a scientist fandangles his way through the challenges of being the only man on the planet? Might be your cup of tea.

So yes, sometimes Watney’s jokes and persistent attitude gets a little old. And some detailed scientific solutions are less interesting than others. But as a casual space adventure, I’d recommend it. My only major qualm was with the ending. What’s up with that Weir? It just wasn’t satisfying for me. We’ll probably end up going to see the movie in a couple months anyway. Strangely enough, I pictured Watney as Matt Damon while I was reading and it turns out he was actually cast! Maybe my brain already knew subconsciously ha! Plus, Donald Glover is cast as Rich Purnell. I love that.

Anyway, this book has really taken off recently. What’s your take on it?

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2 thoughts on “The Martian”

  1. Great review, I feel similarly – the book lacked emotional punch and climax, but I do have great respect for the detailed research.

    I am also too excited for the movie, mainly because of Matt Damon šŸ˜€

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