The Martian by Andy Weir

Thursday, January 22, 2015


The Martian
Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10."

I first started listening to The Martian on a road trip with the husband in May last year. The audiobook was around 8 hours long, and our road trip was 16 hours total. We figured we will be able to finish this book, even though we were going to have extra company on the return drive. But we only managed 4 hours of audio - blame it on the traffic, the many directions by the GPS lady, and the horrible rainy weather for a good part of the drive. We loved the book thus far but never got time to go back to the audiobook. Finally, in December, I borrowed the ebook version from my library and raced through it.

By now, everyone should know what The Martian is about - an astronaut, Mark Watney, is presumed dead and left behind on Mars after a freak storm sends the rest of the crew packing away. Eulogies are being sung everywhere in Earth and the remaining crew is distraught, but Mark is neither dead nor dying. How does a man, left for dead, on a planet that's not our home Earth, let the universe know that he is alive and kicking? Especially, when his communications systems won't work since the spaceship they all came in has left Mars boundary. More importantly, how will he survive on the planet long enough to establish contact or wait for the next crew to arrive years from then?

I loved The Martian. Mostly. If you love science, there is a lot to enjoy here. Even if you do love science, some of those facts could still be flying over your head, because there is A LOT of that. I admit to reading past them occasionally, but I appreciated that the author had all that information in there, because even if you don't understand any of it, you will 1) be wowed by how well this guy uses his brains (and just his own brains) to apply science to the Mark Watney survival project, and 2) be impressed that much of the science he applies are really basic high school science that we could also apply if only we had paid more attention in class. I don't think I would have been that impressed by Watney's daily routines, if some of those oh-so-dreary facts weren't paraded around.

The book is also very visual. I could picture most of the details in the book, and for that reason, I am super excited about the movie coming out later this year. Sure, Hollywood is going to spin it even further to make it feel more dramatic and heroic, but I can live with that after having read the book. The only problem I had with the book was the ending. Don't get me wrong - I couldn't imagine any other ending either, but it was a typical Hollywood-style ending - over-dramatic, 11th hour nail-biting moments, several edge-of-the-seat minutes. I wish the author had written the ending less like a scene from a movie, and more like a scene from a sensible book. After all the good scientific stuff in the rest of the book, the last part just felt more driven by luck and a Hollywood director than whatever set the tone in the book until then.

Despite that awkward ending, this is still a book I will strongly recommend. I didn't even mention the best part yet - Mark Watney is a seriously hilarious guy. The kind of guy you want to hang out with all day. The humor could, however, rub you the wrong way, because most of the time it is of the sarcastic kind, but hey, the guy is stuck on Mars alone, let's cut him some slack, shall we? It's amazing how despite the heavy odds stacked against his survival and all the dangerous things he does on the planet, he still manages to keep his humor hat on and say something funny.


I borrowed this ebook from the good old library.

27 comments:

Alex (sleeplessreader.com) said...

One of the first things I wondered was if the sarcasm wasn't a natural reaction to the situation. If I was him, maybe at some point I'd try to do something, but it's likely I'd be just a ball on a corner of the floor for the first day...

bermudaonion(Kathy) said...

A friend lent me her copy of this months ago, saying she and her husband both loved it. It's been lingering on my nightstand. I can't figure out why I don't feel compelled to pick it up since everyone loves it.

Kay said...

I've been on the fence about reading this one. However, I may give it a try on audio. I'm finding that I can listen to a lot of books that I might be more hesitant about reading. And a movie - well, I think my husband would like it. Thanks and now off to look for the audio.

Ti Reed said...

It was pretty funny once I got past all of the math. God, there is a lot of math. I'm not sure how successful the movie will be even with Damon and Scott at the helm. It will be a lot like Gravity but with humor.

Sam_TinyLibrary said...

I really need to get to this before the film comes out. I've joined the massive hold list at my library, fingers crossed I get my turn in time!

Biblioglobal said...

I too am on the hold list at the library. I am excited for all the scientific and mathematical nerdery that is promised! (Funny sounds good too.)

Athira / Aths said...

The audio version is pretty good - in fact it's funnier than the print version. Hope you enjoy it!

Athira / Aths said...

Yeah, I'm with you. I'll be panicking and bawling my lungs out for a good few days, then maybe I'll try to do something. I don't know if I'll try to be funny though. Some people respond with humor so Mark Watney's probably that kind of guy.

Athira / Aths said...

It must be the hype! I started reading this long back. I'm sure if I didn't, I would probably wait years before reading it.

Athira / Aths said...

The audio is a great option! It's funnier on audio so you may enjoy it more.

Athira / Aths said...

I don't know how they will transform all that science and math into entertaining movie scenes. I think a lot of people may miss the ingenuity of Mark Watney's survival plans. Oh well, we'll see.

Athira / Aths said...

The hold list for this book is deadly at the library. I hope you will get this book soon!

Athira / Aths said...

I am sure you will enjoy the math and the science. There is plenty of that in this book.

Jillian Raymundo said...

I have a copy of this with me, just waiting to be read. I love realistic science fiction books, it's something we definitely don't get a lot of. I love the idea behind it, and I absolutely love its intriguing, simple cover.

Mystica said...

Not a genre I like but you make it sound very good (I like the descriptive bits).

JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing said...

I don't generally enjoy this genre but, encouraged by my reaction to Station Eleven, may just give it a try! Thanks for your review.

Belle Wong said...

I really enjoyed this book. It was that combination of humor and edge of the seat nail bitingness. And it's funny, going by its synopsis it wasn't even the type of book is normally read (man against nature? So not me) but I couldn't resist after seeing some reviews raving about it. There are times when I'm glad I'm a weak-willed reader who succumbs to peer pressure :)

Sheila DeChantal said...

I listneed to this on audio lats year and loved it!

literaryfeline said...

I am still not sure about this one, but you've got me leaning toward the "read" side more than anyone else has so far. I am glad you enjoyed this one so much!

Lisa Sheppard said...

Everyone seems to love this book but for some reason I still can't make myself consider it. Which is actually frustrating because I hate to think I'm missing something great!

Athira / Aths said...

I also much prefer realistic scifi. I am not a fan of scifi that is too futuristic or otherworldly.The Martian just satisfied my craving for such books!

Athira / Aths said...

It is pretty interesting.

Athira / Aths said...

If you do get to read this one, I am eager to hear what you think.

Athira / Aths said...

I agree with what you say. It's hard to see a book like this and want to read it but thank goodness for all the reviews.

Athira / Aths said...

The audio is certainly so much fun!

Athira / Aths said...

If you do choose to read it, I'd love to know what you think about it. But it's probably not for everyone, so it's alright if you don't read it. :-)

Athira / Aths said...

You could skip it - it's alright. Or maybe come to it later once the hype dies down.