Review | The Martian - Andy Weir

Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Release Date: February 13, 2014
Page count: 369
Genre: Sci-Fi 
Age bracket: Adult
Source: Purchased Ebook

I'm stranded on Mars.

From Goodreads:
I'm stranded on Mars.
I have no way to communicate with Earth.
I'm in a Habitat designed to last 31 days.
If the Oxygenator breaks down, I'll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I'll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches. I'll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I'll eventually run out of food and starve to death.
So yeah. I'm screwed.
~ • ~

NASA crew Ares 3 are due to spend a 31-day mission on Mars. On Day 6, a severe dust storm sweeps through their camp, forcing them to abort their operation. In their haste to leave, Mark Watney is struck down by flying wreckage and thought of as dead; his crew are forced to leave his body and return to Earth. However, Mark is not dead - he's very much alive and only in need of stitches. Stuck in a Hab on the Martian plain of Acidalia Planitia with very few resources and no means to contact Earth, Mark must put all his training and skills as a botanist to the test in a desperate attempt to survive. 

I really wasn't expecting to like this just as much as I did. I had visions of spending the majority of this book bored; how are all 300+ pages documenting a man isolated and alone on Mars going to be entertaining? I was still intrigued, though, and still wanted to give it a go - and I'm glad I did. I assumed this was going to be a serious, heavy story, but it's far from that.
Written in the style of daily logs, Mark journals the main points of each Sol he spends on Mars. Mark has a very unique voice; even though he's in a dire situation, he is often light-hearted and jovial, which makes for an easy and surprisingly humorous read. 

The Martian was very interesting and enlightening. It shows Mark, who's an extremely intelligent man, putting what little resources he has to very good use. I mean, he grows potatoes in his Hab on Mars. He makes his own soil out of refuse; water by burning hydrogen and using the various Hab systems available to him. It's just so clever.
Each day, he continues to push himself to stretch out the use of the six-person-crew rations of gear and food, all the while creating new means for himself to attempt to survive the four long years until the next scheduled Ares mission is due to land.

Another interesting thing was that not all of the book is centered around Mark. We get glimpses into the working days of various staff members of NASA, such as the administrator, director, and head of PR, as they deal with the aftermath of Mark's "death". There are also insights into the media frenzy surrounding the whole fiasco, and the planning of the Ares 4 and other missions, so we get to see everything from two very different sides.

Now, while I really enjoyed this book, I spent a lot of the time completely confused. There's an abundance of science jargon, NASA/space-terms that I'm not familiar with, and a lot of chemistry and botany things that went completely straight over my head.
Obviously, this isn't the book's fault... I'm just not as well-educated as some people on these topics.
It's not you, it's me.
However, this didn't detract from how much I enjoyed the story as a whole.

Overall, it was an entertaining and interesting read with likeable characters and an ending I found myself really satisfied with, and emotional about. If you're interested in space-travel and science, I think it'd definitely be worth giving The Martian a read!

Astronauts are inherently insane. And really noble.


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