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The Martian by Andy Weir

I can see how it was so popular, it kept me on the edge of my seat for most of it.

Mark Watney is the protagonist in this story about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars after a freak accident during a storm in which his crew and all the people back on earth presume he is dead. He has to deal with problem after problem, first to just survive and ensure he has enough food etc, then to prepare for his hoped for rescue once people find out he’s actually still alive.

Now I had seen the film already before reading the book but luckily enough I don’t have the best memory so though I knew the general gist of what was going to happen, I’d forgotten the details, so yay to a bad memory! Mark himself is full of quips and one liners, which makes him a tad unrealistic in the environment he’s in but does make him interesting to read about. Especially as the amount of figures thrown around can get a bit overdone, so a break from the maths is a good thing.

I’ve heard this is somewhat realistic take on what it might take to survive on Mars, personally I have no idea, but I did find the constant calculations a bit boring sometimes, particularly in the first part. I found the whole thing livened up once people back on earth found out he was still alive and the extra characters definitely helped. From then on it switched from Mark to different people back on earth to his crew, and all these viewpoints gave good perspectives on what was going on and what needed to be done.

It was mentioned a few times but I would like to have seen it addressed more though; was the amount of money and resources that was thrown at rescuing one man, who knew the risks before starting, really worth it? Like hardly anyone (other than those directly affected) blinks an eye at people dying all over the world but for something like this, everything is thrown at it. It’s very realistic and very human.

The pacing is relentless once the story really gets going. I read the last hundred pages or so in one setting and stayed up way too late. The technical details were really interesting though as mentioned I did find myself glossing over parts of it. This was a fun read and the way it was set up was very cinematic so I’m not surprised at all that it was picked up by Hollywood. This was also an intentional but well timed read with the landing of Perseverance on Mars, so that was an added bonus.

4 stars

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