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.