Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian: What it is about

From the author: “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—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue 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 kill 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. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?”

The Martian: What I thought

When a science fiction novel doesn’t involve fighting space ships, I’m all for it! This one was about space travel, or actually: space living. When Mark is left behind on Mars after a mission goes wrong, he’s has to use his wits to survive. He knows the next space mission won’t be for several years and he plans to stay alive until he can be rescued.

Most of the book is his log about his plans (and the execution of them) on how to survive for so long. This is alternated with the story of the NASA staff back on earth who are trying to get into contact with him (indeed, even that is not possible) and try to find ways to get food to him or rescue him in some other way.

The premise is brilliant and the actions Mark undertakes to keep alive are very inventive and clever. Unfortunately, he goes into quite a lot of detail to describe what he does and I found this a little tedious at times. I mean, I didn’t need to know exactly how much hydrogen he could recover from so much water and so much oxygen (sorry, maybe it wasn’t quite that) or how much energy he needed. Calculation upon calculation. I didn’t mind it too much, but I certainly didn’t check whether he was right.

Especially in the beginning, it felt as if I was reading an accountancy report, replacing dollars for liters and forces. But the story is good, he gets a little further with his plans every day, although of course there are some fall backs. With his clever thinking he usually finds a good solution, but sometimes it’s more a matter of hope than of certainty.

A lot of things went right for him, maybe too many. Mark was so inventive that it seemed unlikely that something would go so wrong, that he wouldn’t survive (plus the story would lose its main character!). I guess just being on Mars with the smallest mistake being lethal was enough to keep the story interesting.

Mark didn’t talk much about how he felt being on his own on a planet with no hope of a swift rescue. He didn’t seem to miss anyone back on earth. He focused totally on survival. That seemed a bit unrealistic. Wouldn’t you have an off-day where you wallow in self-pity?

But having said all that, I loved the story and the somewhat unlikely ending.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (good to very good)

Number of pages: 384

First published: 2014

I got this: from the publishers, Crown, for review (ebook)

Genre: science fiction (space travel)

 

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

15 Responses to Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

  1. bibliosue says:

    At times I felt like I should have paid more attention in my science classes at school but I loved this book. It was very exciting. And I loved Mark, he was pretty funny despite his dire situation.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Suzanne, it was definitely exciting. But didn’t you find it strange that Mark didn’t really think about his family and friends back home? He certainly was funny!

  2. Great review, thanks so much. My husband would love this book and I am going to recommend it to him!

  3. Ha, I think the reason why I shy away from sci-fi is because of all the fighting in spaceships🙂 Time travel though is fascinating! This sort of reminds me of The Last Policeman. I don’t mind geeky either, it seems that is part and parcel of sci-fi.

  4. Leslie says:

    I enjoyed this one even with all the scientific calculations.

  5. ecarasella says:

    I was on the fence. Now I’m sold.

  6. Athira says:

    I haven’t finished reading this book yet, but I did think it got a little too detailed as well. I did glaze over occasionally, but for the most part, I thought it was quite fascinating. I am also all for scifi books that are not about spaceships.

  7. I really enjoyed this one as well! I loved Mark’s “voice” to the book.

  8. BookerTalk says:

    I can imagine readers who are into space exploration and techno things will be poring over the detail of this, trying to find the holes in it and the inaccuracies! You said the ending is a bit unbelievable but the whole premise is a bit like that isn’t it? Mars is generally inhospitable I thought??

  9. Candiss says:

    I really enjoyed this book, (and your review!) but I found it to have the same weak spots that you mention – rather improbable ending, odd lack of connection for the protagonist to anyone back home. (I would expect him to have some non-astronaut buddies – old school chums, etc. – that he might miss. As nostalgic as he was for certain things, I, too, thought it odd that he didn’t seem to miss anyone much.) Other than that, I agree it was a great book. I loved all the scientific detail, but I’m a nerd loud and proud.

    I can’t wait to see what stories Weir comes up with next!

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