Book Reviews

Book Review – The Martian

The Martian by Andy Weir is a sci-fi novel originally self-published in 2011 and then re-released by a publisher in 2014. The story follows Mark Watney, a botanist/mechanical engineer who is stranded on Mars after this landing party presumes him dead and leaves during a storm. The book is mainly written in his log entries with some narrative from NASA thrown in. The plot follows Watney’s struggle to survive and find a way off Mars. It’s basically the cross of Apollo 13 and Castaway.

I absolutely loved this book! It’s an older one and one that has been on my shelf for a while and I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner. I loved it after a few pages and it never let me down, it is spectacular throughout. My only regret was picking it up on a Sunday night, I wish I could have binged this one on a weekend afternoon.

I loved so many things but to start, the science is really well done. It’s detailed and mostly accurate and just overall done so much better than most science fiction. It finds that perfect balance between giving the science details without becoming boring. Plus I’m a mechanical engineer and child of two middle school math teachers, so anytime you have a main character cursing Pythagoras, I’m totally on board.

The humor in this book was unexpected (it’s a story about a guy fighting for his life) but really made the book. I laughed out loud so many times. Mark Watney has this weird sense of humor that is blended into the log entries and just works beautifully. He has no one else to talk to and thinks no one will ever read his log so he writes it to make himself chuckle and as a reader, I appreciated it so much. The old sitcom references, the self-congratulatory comparisons to super heroes, the (very smart and well reasoned) declaration of being a space pirate, I loved it all.

No matter how much I loved Mark’s internal dialogue/log entries, the addition of the occasional section from the NASA point of view was so important and made the story seem so real. The idea of how the news and world would react to this story and watch this man (who is constantly complaining about Three’s Company and disco) felt incredibly real. While from a plot perspective, this may not have provided that much, it rounded out Mark’s story to show the importance and overall impact on the world. I loved these chapters for that counterpoint.

There are so many more things I loved about this book, there are literally no things that I disliked. I was totally invested in this story and cheering on Mark the whole time. I was ready to give 5 stars by maybe page 10 and I never wavered. I loved it entirely and recommend it without reservation. I have no doubt that one day I’ll reread this one and definitely looking for some more books from Andy Weir to read.

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