Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Title: The MartianBook Review - The Martian by Andy Weir

Author: Andy Weir

Publisher: Crown

Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure

First Publication: 2012

Major Characters: Mark Watney, Commander Melissa Lewis, Major Rick Martinez, Beth Johanssen, Teddy Sanders, Mindy Park, Annie Montrose, Mitch Henderson, Dr. Irene Shields

Theme: Literature and Connection; Family, Parenting, and Legitimacy; War, Hunger, and Humanity; Women, Marriage, and Work

Setting: Science, Human Ingenuity, and the Fight to Survive; Bureaucracy vs. Human Endeavour; Solitude and the Human Need for Connection

Narrator: Much of the novel is told from Mark Watney’s point of view; these passages take the form of Watney’s log entries during the Mars mission. Weir alternates between the log entries and passages narrated from third-person omniscient and third-person limited perspectives.

 

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

 

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Andy Weir’s book ‘The Martian’ is about a Mars reconnaissance mission gone wrong, a mission for which a two-month visit could turn into two years for crewmember Mark Watney. Watney is inadvertently abandoned by his team during a dust storm that forces them to abort their mission early. Survival skills come into play here, as well as science and engineering. And the science is great.

In a nutshell the premise of the book, on the off chance that you didn’t already know, is that a lone astronaut is inadvertently left stranded on the red planet after a catastrophic accident leaves his crew-mates believing he is dead. Coming to alone and marooned millions of miles from home Mark Watney is left with the choice to try and fight nearly impossible odds to survive or give up and die alone on an alien world. We come to find, however, that Mark is the kind of man who doesn’t take failure lightly. There were enough ups and downs in the plot itself to keep readers excited and wondering just how the hell the most recent crisis was going to be resolved.

Ultimately though, the question of what makes this book work so well comes down to two words: Mark Watney. Our intrepid hero and narrator is an ingenious astronaut with a penchant for botany and engineering whose sharp wit and never-say-die attitude manage to be uplifting without being cloying. When it comes down to brass tacks Mark Watney is a truly likable protagonist.

“If ruining the only religious icon I have leaves me vulnerable to Martian vampires, I’ll have to risk it.”

I can’t really go into too much detail on the plot since I think that the surprises in store for the reader are integral to one’s enjoyment of the story. Suffice it to say that it’s up to our intrepid astronaut to try and find a clever way out of problems that threaten to end his life nearly every day.

Ultimately The Martian by Andy Weir is all about the human ability to come up with creative solutions in order to overcome adversity…and the adversity comes pretty hard & fast. Basically anything that can go wrong will and the real burden on suspension of disbelief lies on the reader being willing to accept that Mark Watney is clever enough to think his way out of them consistently.

Andy Weir’s novel is a rollercoaster ride of an adventure story, the pacing utterly breathtaking from the beginning when the crew of the third manned Mars mission are forced to abandon astronaut Mark Watney during a rushed evacuation, leaving him for dead. The trials Watney faces to survive – initially without any contact from Earth or his crew-mates, and assuming they think he is dead – make this utterly gripping but what really carries the book is that, in Mark Watney, Weir has written simply one of the most engaging characters I have ever read. And he has to be, as 90% of the book is carried by his personal log. Watney is inventive, witty, profane and profoundly human – possibly more upbeat than is realistic for someone abandoned 225 million kilometres from home, but the book is all about striving and surviving against impossible odds, so we can forgive it that.

“Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but I’m not dead, so it’s a win.”

Andy Weir writes well enough to genuinely make us fear for Watney’s survival as each subsequent mishap occurs, and the other characters are all drawn excellently within their roles. When some disaster befell on our stranded protagonist, they were certainly not overdone and the solutions by which he progresses always brilliantly inventive yet never stretched credulity by being superhuman, or even by being something on smart, motivated bloke could come up with.

Andy Weir is a scientist. Actually it is impossible for someone to have written this book and not be a scientist. And it’s also understandable that the book combines all of the technical details needed to explain Watney’s attempts to survive on Mars until rescue. Andy Weir self-published this book in 2012 and on account of some great success he had on Amazon, his book was picked up by a subsidiary of Random House, the biggest publisher on Earth in 2014.


 

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