Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Release Date: February 11, 2014
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Mark Watney was thrilled to be selected for one of Earth’s missions to Mars, to be one of the first humans to stand on the red planet. He was less thrilled when, six days after landing, there was an accident, and he was left behind on Mars, presumed dead. Now, with no way to leave the planet, Mark must figure out a way to survive and let Earth know that he’s still alive.
Part science fiction, part survivor tale, and fully hilarious, The Martian is a novel that is not to be missed. Readers will enjoy marveling at Mark Watney’s ingenuity and engineering skills almost as much as they will revel in his sense of humor in this unique and engaging novel.
I knew I wanted to read The Martian the second I saw the cover; I love most things space related, and one of my goals for the year is to seek out and read more science fiction. Therefore, it seemed as though this novel was made for me. I knew I’d enjoy it, but what I didn’t expect is how much I’d absolutely love this novel. It is unique, memorable, and every page is absolutely and fully enjoyable.
Mark Watney is what really makes The Martian; a less ingenious or funny main character could have torpedoed this book. But Mark’s sense of humor in the face of overwhelming (and not encouraging) odds is amazing. He had me laughing out loud countless times over the course of the book—he tells it like it is and doesn’t sugarcoat things. But he also is incredibly smart and resourceful. So many times when others would have given up and accepted death, Mark persevered. This determination to survive makes the reader absolutely root for him; it’s easy to become emotionally involved with Mark’s struggle to just make it through each day.
The science and engineering in The Martian is really just impressive. As I’m not a scientist or an engineer, I can’t remark on its realism, but what I can say is that it’s clear, concise, and explained well. The way Mark repurposes things, tearing them apart in order to find new uses, is amazing. I always was wondering what would he would come up with next, trying to figure out what Mark’s next challenge would be. Again and again, he surprised me.
But don’t let this talk of science and engineering make you think this book is anything other than it is: pure fun. Smart fun, yes, but the real thrill of The Martian is how funny and engaging it is. It’s absolutely amazing to watch Mark MacGyver his way out of each new jam, especially considering Weir never lets the reader forget the stakes: Mark could die at any minute. And that’s what so impressive about this book. Though it’s technically science fiction, it reads like a memoir. It’s difficult to pull yourself out of the narrative sometimes to remember that this, in fact, is not nonfiction. Weir is a tremendous writer and he’s achieved something magical with The Martian. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any reader, whether you’re a fan of science fiction or not; it’s just that good.