09 October, 2015

Book Review: The Martian

From GoodreadsSix 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 & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long 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 isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Thoughts: Last Thursday night, I reluctantly agreed to go to the movies to see The Martian. My husband assured me I would enjoy the movie, I wasn't so sure. It was AWESOME!! Easily the best movie I have seen in awhile. So like all good bibliophiles, my first thought was - need to read the book. It was even MORE AWESOME!!
Books and movies like this are fantastic because they make science so cool. It shows the power of intelligence and how being a scientist can take you to some amazing places where you can do amazing things. Also shows you how science can save your life. Like any fiction book, I'm sure there are scientific inaccuracies, but from everything I've read and the conversations I've had with my science nerd husband, it's pretty good.
Weir creates a character you really want to make it. Watney's diary can almost be read as a daily pep talk to himself - focus on the positive, solve the problems, get home. I also really liked Watney's slightly rebellious nature it doing things he knows NASA would not approve of, but also acknowledging how much easier it is with their input on the problem solving. I did find myself getting a bit frustrated with NASA, wanting them to realise this guy had managed to survive without them and maybe they should just give him a little leeway.
Weir is also excellent at weaving humour into the story.It helps that his main character is so up beat and a laugh-or-you'll-cry type of guy. I think if he'd gone the serious, we're all going to die doom and gloom route with the book it would not be any where near as successful. The humour stops the reader being fully immersed in the true horror of the situation and the seemingly insurmountable odds of survival.
If I had a criticism of the book it would be in regards to the secondary characters. They seemed a bit flat to me, not quite fully formed. Whether part of this was because Mark Watney was larger than life, or because there was no time or space to flesh them out I'm not quite sure. The reality also is a lot of people would be needed to work a mission like this and in the interest of keeping the book as real as possible, those people pop in and out of the earth side of the story.
The Martian is a great read. Even if you are not a big sci-fi fan, I'd suggest you get hold of this and give it a go. 

The Martian gets 5 stars

*        Did not like it
**       It was OK
***      Liked it
****    Really liked it
*****   It was amazing