Monday, October 13, 2014

The Martian: A Novel

Title:  The Martian: A Novel
Author:  Andy Weir
Publication Information:  Crown. 2014. 384 pages.
ISBN:  0804139024 / 978-0804139021

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through Edelweiss free of cost in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Blogging for Books!

Favorite Quote:  "It was a ridiculous sequences of events that led to me almost dying, and an even more ridiculous sequence that led to me surviving."

The Martian is definitely one of the most fun books I have read in a while. The book is about dire circumstances, but it is such an entertaining story. Take a little bit of the movie Gravity. Add in the book Robinson Crusoe. Then throw in MacGyver. That will get you close to what this book is all about.

Mark Watney is an astronaut. He and a team are on a mission to Mars. On day 6 on Mars, an accident occurs. The mission is aborted. Thinking that Mark has died, his team does what they have been trained to do - they evacuate and leave him behind. The only thing is that Mark is not dead. He is now stranded on Mars, all alone. He knows the next mission to Mars is scheduled to arrive in four years. Can he survive until then?

Mark Watney is an engineer and a botanist. He is brilliant. He is also irreverent and cocky. He curses and talks in sexual innuendo. In another story, in another context, he may not be particularly likable and may come across as somewhat juvenile. However, he is alone, stranded with very little hope of survival. In this context, his behavior does not appear out of place. It comes across as part of his survival mechanism. He chooses to face his life and death situation with brashness and humor. He laughs when he could just as easily cry and give up.

The chapters chronicling Mark's time on Mars are first person journal entries. The topics of the journal entries range from day to day survival to commentary on his former crew mate's choice of disco music and 70's TV for entertainment, occasional reflection on his situation, and descriptions of his every scientific attempt to increase his chance of survival.

Mind you, the book has many technical details about what Mark "macgyver's" to help himself survive. How can you make water? How can you create soil to make an environment suitable for Earth crops? What can use for survival when you have no other choice? I am not an engineer or a botanist but don't feel a need to be enjoy and understand the story. The book is not about the engineering, but about ingenuity. It is about trying things that fail.

On the serious side of things, this book is about an individual pulling out reserves we don't know we have until put in what seems like an impossible situation. It is about not giving up even though all logic may dictate that no hope exists. On a more global level, the book is about how far do you go to save one of your own? Is there a cost that is too great? Are there ever barriers that cannot be overcome and compromises that cannot be made when a life is at stake? If you are Mark Watney, you hope not.

That's the deep stuff if you want to read into the story. Even if you don't, the descriptions are entertaining, and Mark's humorous commentary on it even more so.

A little bit science-y. A little bit geeky. A whole lot of fun!

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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