Series: The Martian #1
Publisher: Andy Weir
Released: January 1, 2011
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 while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and 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 — and 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?
It would be an exaggeration to say that any book is perfect. But, within the boundaries of what The Martian tries to be, it gets extraordinarily close. A Mars mission doesn’t go quite as planned, and an astronaut gets left behind. The astronaut is not the kind of guy who gives up easily. The book takes it from there, and does it spectacularly.
For its length, this book is packed with so much great stuff. There is drama, there is science, there are thrills (cheap and otherwise), there is emotion, there is some more science, and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. The pacing is great, and the book shamelessly takes the reader through a brilliantly constructed roller coaster. It has more surprises than one would expect, and never takes itself too seriously.
A great, complex, work of literary art The Martian is not. It doesn’t try very hard to make you think great thoughts or to challenge you. The setting being what it is there are plenty of alternate routes this book could have taken. It could easily have been packed with deep, existential, questions: What’s the future of our planet? Of space travel? What is the point of going to space? What is the point of being in the universe at all if we don’t explore it?
The Martian hardly even alludes to any of this. It goes full speed ahead in a super-powered space rover. It does take place in outer space, but not in the “we are exploring hereto unknown elements of our galaxy” kind of way, but in the “WE ARE ON MAAAAARS! WE ARE ACTUALLY ON THE ACTUAL MARS!” way.
This book is so much fun, there really isn’t much more to say about it. Everyone should read it.