Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Martian by Andy Weir Book Review: Funny, Intense, and Extremely Enjoyable



I listened to The Martian in a little under 2 days. It clocks in at just a tick under eleven hours of listening time. I did not quite binge listen, I had a work day during this time. If I didn't I would have had the book finished in close to one sitting. It was a great listen. I cannot count the times I laughed out loud listening to the audio. You also want to find out what happens to our main character, this drives the book forward and is what caused me to finish so quickly.
I finally decided to give The Martian a try because it is soon to be released as a motion picture starring Matt Damon. Go watch the trailer: The Martin Trailer. I had thought about reading/listening to the book a few times before now, but didn't because some of the reviews said the book was too technical and boring. I am really not sure what book these individuals read, because it can't be the same one I finished in a day and half. Maybe the added audio content made it more exciting. The narrator, R.C. Bray, did a fantastic job with the book. The book does have technical scientific aspects to it, but I loved this, probably because I'm a geek. It seemed plausible. I won't pretend to know if everything he did on the planet would have or could have worked.
The premise of the book is simple. Mark Watney was injured while his crew was fleeing Mars. He gets left for dead, only to awaken and begin a long struggle for survival. What I liked most about the book was Mark as a character. He is a quick witted smart ass, and it's his ability to laugh that keeps him going through his ordeal. Part of the psych profile, we learn later, is that under stress he cracks jokes as a coping mechanism. It works for the book, and it had me laughing through most of it. I don't generally laugh out loud while listening or reading, but I did many times during this. We jump back and forth between what NASA is doing to try and rescue him, and Mark surviving on Mars. It works, and speeds the book along. I preferred listing to Mark's survival on Mars to the Earth storyline, but it was all well done.
The only negatives I can find with the book are the fact Mark has potatoes that were not normal space food. This allowed him to try and grow them on Mars. I'm not sure how plausible it would be for them to be taken to Mars. Mark states he has them because they were celebrating Thanksgiving on the red planet, and NASA wanted them to have some normal food. Probably would not have happened on a normal NASA mission, but it created a great interesting storyline. I loved finding out how he was going to try and get them to grow in Martian soil.
Mark has to survive countless ordeals during his life on Mars. True to life is how I would classify these struggles. Weir doesn't pull any punches for our hero. Yes he is inventive and resilient, but not everything works out how he plans. I would say all of things that happen to him would be impossible to survive, and maybe they would be. We do have a great real life example of people surviving impossible odds in Space: Apollo 13. It has an Apollo 13 feel to it, which I am sure Weir was aiming for. He nailed it, and the intensity is strongly felt from the work.
If you like science, survival, and adventure stories this one is for you. Any type of literature fan should enjoy this novel, not just science fiction fans. I am glad I took the plunge and didn't get scared away because of the negative technical reviews. The technical stuff is in there, but I enjoyed it (so be warned if you don't like detailed explanations of how things workJ). Pick up the book, get ready for the movie. I will eagerly await the release, and hope the movie can capture the books magic.
My Rating: Worth Re-reading multiple times.

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