Feb 22, 2016

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

TitleThe Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Crown
Publishing Date: February 11, 2014
Pages/Format: 369, Hardcover
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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 the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years 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's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

Grounded in real, present-day science from the first page to the last, yet propelled by a brilliantly ingenious plot that surprises the reader again and again, The Martian is a truly remarkable thriller: an impossible-to-put-down suspense novel that manages to read like a real-life survival tale.

Book in One Word: *Shrugs*

I'm pretty sure everyone's heard of The Martian by now thanks to the movie, but I think the book first crossed my path pre-movie when I saw the cover. I mean, an astronaut in space is pretty attention grabbing, and the cover itself is gorgeous. I kept wanting to pick it up--because space, and I love astronomy--but never had the time. I wanted to see the movie but wanted to read the book first, so I finally read it. Verdict: I liked The Martian, but...Houston, why all the hype?

Don't get me wrong--The Martian wasn't a bad book. But I really don't understand why it is so damn popular. It's not that good. Granted, there were a few factors behind this, but it took me over a month to read it. Andy Weir definitely did a lot research--like, damn--or he's really, really good at making shit up. I'd zone out occasionally with all the technical stuff--and there's a lot--but it never really got very boring, which is good. The problem was the writing itself. It was...simple. Now, simple isn't bad, but I expected more. Maybe it's because most of the novel is told through Mark Watney's point of view and his logs, so it's how he would really say things. But even then, the dialogue of other characters would come off as unrealistic and almost immature, and few characters were ever as dimensional as Watney. And sometimes Weir would try to make them dimensional but the snippets we got just seemed pointless. I guess I just expected more.

And Watney himself, well...where's the emotion? Yeah, he'd say he was utterly fucked and that he was freaking out--and again, these are his logs, so he's literally telling us what happens--but why the hell aren't you panicking and peeing yourself out of sheer fear? I just think that the dude is way too calm for being completely alone on Mars and knowing he could be like that for five years and has to survive somehow. I missed the emotion and the feeling to really invest me in the story. Honestly, I kind of like it more when I wasn't in his POV--seeing what was happening on the outside had more interest and spark, though there were some Watney scenes that had me giddy and worried and needing to turn the page.

Like I said, this book has a hell of a lot of technical talk, and I'll be honest: I just nodded my head and went along with it. But like I also said, it never came off as boring, which is good, because all that fancy dancy stuff is necessary. You could complain about it being there, but then you'd complain that none of the book is even remotely possible and you'd hate it. The tech talk makes you believe the story and that it's real, and that right there is important. (But seriously, Andy Weir, how much research did you do?) All that said, if I'm ever stranded on Mars, I hope I have this book on hand because it will be my only chance of survival.

I think The Martian is one of those novels you have to experience for yourself. I can't tell you much about it without telling you all about it. I mean, Mark Watney's stranded on Mars. What else can I tell you except that everything pivots around that? Though there were some scenes and lines that were of thumbs-up, a-okay quality. But that ending? I knew it was going to be like that when I saw how many pages I had left. I am completely and utterly not satisfied with that stupid ending. As a whole, I liked The Martian. I did. (I know this review makes it seem otherwise, but I promise, I didn't dislike it like at all.) I just expected something more complex, technical talk aside. I wasn't blown away and I totally thought this would blast me off to space, but instead I am still most definitely on Earth. Hype built this up to the excitement of an asteroid soaring by, while I see it as maybe more of a shooting star. A bit of a disappointment? Yes. A bad book? No. Does it make me want to go to outer space? Nope, never. Do I think I'll like the movie more? Yes.

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? I don't know that I'd ever feel the need to?
Would I purchase it? I wouldn't mind having it on my shelf, but I'm in no rush to own it.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of book set in space--but I don't know that I'd call this a space book--with characters in perilous situations, simple writing, and lots and lots of technical information.

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading this now and I'm feeling the same thing you did. At first I was really happy that I could follow along with all the science-y stuff and not be totally lost. I'm definitely NOT a science girl, so that was a worry of mine going into it. Right now I'm just left wondering if I'm going to get anything more from Mark. Like you said he's freaking out, but NOT freaking out at the same time. And I'm feeling the same thing from him over and over & I want MORE. I'm not going to give up, so we'll see if I feel like the book progresses (although reading you're review, I'm betting not).


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