Monday, June 22, 2015

The Martian by Andy Weir

It is so exciting as a reader to find a book like The Martian by Andy Weir. This is one of those books that will hook its readers from the very first page, make its readers laugh out loud (no matter how strangely other people may look at her) and keep its readers turning the pages as quickly as possible. Mark Watney is an astronaut and is currently on a mission to Mars. The first five days were great- and then day six happened. Well, Sol Six, since "days" are calculated differently on Mars. On Sol six, a catastrophic event left Watney all alone on the red planet and now he has to figure out how to survive.

This book was suspenseful and exciting and it made me laugh really hard in some places. It was technical enough to make me feel smart for reading it, but the technical bits were never overwhelming. The science factor of this book was so interesting and compelling that I am planning to let my eleven-year-old read it, despite the fact that it isn't exactly a children's book. There is quite a bit of cursing in the book, as one might imagine would happen in such an insane situation, but seeing as he's starting middle school in the fall, I'm thinking there won't be anything he hasn't already heard.

Mark Watney seems like just the kind of great guy everyone would love and in this book everyone does. One of my favorite things about this book is that there is no enemy, no character to hate. The antagonist is Mars herself and Mark does everything he can to defeat her while still maintaining his sense of humor and, somehow, his sanity. He is sarcastic and completely irreverent of his situation, but he's also a total genius. As a botanist and a mechanical engineer, he uses every ounce of his knowledge to get from one Sol to the next.

I suppose I'll think of something. Or die.

...there'll be nothing left but the "Mark Watney Memorial Crater"...

It's a terrible thing to have my life depend on my half-assed handiwork.

He takes great pleasure in laughing about the fact that he is the only man on the planet.

...I'm about 100 kilometers from Pathfinder. Technically it's "Carl Sagan Memorial Station." But with all due respect to Carl, I can call it whatever the hell I want. I'm the King of Mars.

While Mark is attempting to piece together some way to not die, back on Earth he is getting quite a lot of attention. And in addition to loving Mark, the characters we meet that work for NASA are just as wonderful. This book is written in such a way that the reader cannot help but become invested in the characters. I cheered for their successes and worried along with them with things went wrong. And at one point, I had to put the book down and walk away because I was freaking out so badly over one section. Seriously, it was so crazy and so so good.

The way Weir imagines the mission is fascinating. It is obviously set in the future, but there is no indication of how near or far this future could be which makes it fun to imagine watching such a mission in my lifetime. And it isn't totally removed from reality. At one point, the mission commander says this:

"Uncle Sam paid a hundred thousand dollars for every second we'll be here."

Wow. And I really don't think that's far fetched at all. I also really appreciated the way Weir wrote in the perspective transitions. The story never sits too long on one perspective or moves on too quickly. The timing is just about perfect and that is a difficult balance to find.

This was a fantastic book and I highly recommend it. The movie version is set for release at the beginning of October and it is starring Matt Damon. First a disclaimer: I LOVE MATT DAMON! However, despite that fact, I can't imagine a better actor to play Mark Watney. The whole time I was reading this book, I could totally hear Matt Damon's voice saying Watney's words. Here is the official trailer so that you can see for yourself how good this looks. I enjoyed this book so much that I bought a copy of it for my husband and another for my dad for Father's Day. I really think they'll like it and so will you. Even if this isn't the kind of book you typically read, give it a try. You'll be so glad you did.


Anonymous said...

I read this book earlier this month and LOVED it! It was so quirky and hilarious and even though it was really science-y the story didn't get bogged down by it. Can't WAIT for the movie! :)

April said...

I felt the same way! The science and math bits were just the right length. And even though I would probably have seen the movie anyway because I love Matt Damon, now I REALLY want to see it!