The Martian by Andy Weir
|Book Name:||The Martian|
|Publisher(s):||Crown (US) Del Rey (UK)|
|Formatt:||Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / eBook|
|Release Date:||February 11, 2014 (US) February 13, 2014 (UK)|
Book recommendations and I have a torrid relationship. Most of the time it doesn’t work out for me due to a great deal of impatience with many traditional tropes, inability to get past other tropes, and my usual response to such silliness is to make bad jokes at the book’s expense until I am suitably entertained or convinced that it isn’t worth the trouble anymore. Then there are the glorious exceptions where I run around the house intermittently squeeing in delight and telling everyone under the sun they have to read this book right now.
That being said gentlefolks, you have to read this book.
The Martian centers around one Mark Watney, who ends up having the worst day ever six sols into his NASA Mars mission. A huge dust storm hits, his Mars suit springs a leak, the communications array gets trashed, and the rest of his team evacuates while thinking he’s dead. Mark’s revised plan of operation for his Mars mission is simple: live long enough for someone to realize: A) that he isn’t dead yet or B) meet the next Mars mission when they land. So he queues up some Bee Gees hits and gets to it.
If forced to describe Mark Watney, I would have to say he’s MacGyver in space with all the ingenuity and sass that comes with it. It’s pointed out very early on that he does have access to enough morphine to overdose if things get bleak, but that’s where the unending humor and refrains of “I tried this thing and I didn’t die! Yay!” comes in. Also the potatoes, and the poo he uses to fertilize them. And of course the staple of all space missions that were and ever will be, duct tape. Mark’s narration is a survival comedy affair, then the sections with mission control after they realize he’s alive are more of a tense docu-drama. Half the time they can watch what’s happening to Watney, but can’t do anything about it and the other half of the time they spend trying to think of ways to ensure his survival until rescue can arrive.
The story switches in voice from first person (Watney) and third person (everyone else). The juxtaposition between the two does an admirable job of keeping the tension up without drowning the story in constant serious business, especially as Watney’s attitude is entirely distinct from everyone else’s. The NASA side of events seems rather plausible, were they ever actually able to send people to Mars all the way to the grousing between crews for who’s responsible for building what in the next month.
The one thing that bothers me a little bit is that there isn’t much physical description of any of the characters and it bothers me mostly because I know that most people will default to white characters, with a few exceptions. However, that also means that there’s no one to tell me that Commander Lewis isn’t a woman of color, that Mark isn’t part Asian, or that Martinez isn’t a darker skinned Latino guy. As such I will have to disagree with anyone who thinks that a diverse cast “isn’t realistic” and pity their homogenous view of the world around them.
I would highly recommend The Martian to anyone looking for a delightful humorous read with just enough drama. I really enjoyed it.