Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Broadway Books
This book was such a fun book to read! I wasn’t expecting it to be as enjoyable as it was, but I was happily wrong.
The book centers on Mark Watney, a botanist and mechanical engineer, who has a dark sense of humor. He’s on a mission to Mars. But on the 6th day on the mission, a freak sandstorm happened that would’ve blown the spaceship to leave away. The crew had to evacuate, but unfortunately, Mark was hit by an antenna that punctured his spacesuit. He was left on Mars, assumed dead.
Now, Mark has to figure out how to survive until the next crew comes to Mars, which isn’t until 4 years from day 6 on his mission. The Hab is only supposed to be working for a 31 day mission. Throughout the book Mark manages to jerry rig the Hab, the rovers, and other equipment (including an old comm system from a Mars mission in the 1990s) to get himself water, food, and try to figure out a way home.
Of course, throughout the book, there are great lines from Mark in his “Logs,” such as:
“I’m pretty much fucked,” which is the opening line. “Also, I have duct tape. Ordinary duct tape, like you buy at a hardware store. Turns out even NASA can’t improve on duct tape.” I know a saying that goes if you can’t duct it fuck it. “They say once you grow crops somewhere, you have officially ‘colonized’ it. So technically, I colonized Mars. In your face, Neil Armstrong!” I mean when you have a chance to beat Armstrong at something, you might as well take it.
So yes, this novel made me laugh throughout it. I was nervous when I first started wondering if it was only going to be Mark’s log. But at chapter 6, the reader is taken back to Earth to where NASA is dealing with the fallout of Mark’s “death.” Then the book goes back and forth between Mark’s logs and NASA trying to figure out how they will save Mark. At chapter 12, the reader is taken back to the sol day 6 and sees what happens from the rest of the crew’s point of view. From there on, the book goes between Mark, the crew, and NASA, which keeps things a bit more interesting.
I will say the science explanations did get a bit too drawn out and too deep. This is nothing against Weir because he did write in a way that someone who has a master’s in English literature can understand. But it did get tedious after a while.
As Mark started making preparations to leave Mars, he kept coming up against obstacles. The issue of getting food and waters was the obvious one, but then one of the canvas sheets from the airlock wore too thin and the Hab was destroyed. The Pathfinder comm system that Mark rigged stopped working do to getting to many amps. The sandstorm, the ramp in the Schiaparelli basin, and so on and so on. I get that it was to be suspenseful but it was getting a bit ridiculous. Like it started being either sabotage or Mark Watney has the worst luck ever!
The book was still fun and interesting to read, and also it was amazing to see how many people came together to help save one man. As Mark says in his last log at the end, “If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do. And because of that, I had billions of people on my side.” My last, very small, minor complaint, is I would’ve liked to see an epilogue chapter of the Hermes, and therefore the crew, being back on Earth.
Happy Reading Darlings!