A mission to Mars.
A freak accident.
One man’s struggle to survive.
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, Mark 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.
“What must it be like?” he pondered. “He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?”
He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”
LOG ENTRY: SOL 61
How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.
Upon finishing this book, I was utterly and completely speechless.
And, honestly, I think that sums up so much of the book for me: when putting it down for the night, I remember wondering how someone could manage to write something so impeccable, so thrilling, so hilarious. I remember thinking that Andy Weir must be a wizard, or at least a mythical creature to be able to have managed this. Maybe even a Martian.
What I mean to say is that this book is, in all meanings of the word, awesome. From the writing to the tone to the story-line, everything is just right, so much so that I can’t think of anything that could have been done better.
The structure of this novel is also a big winner, in my opinion; it is told in diary entries. Mark Watney, who does not have contact with anyone in the entire universe is basically keeping a diary to keep him company, and I just love that. It says so much for how writing can literally make you feel like you’re surrounded by people, and how writing is so beneficial to your mental health, as it saved Mark Watney from the loneliness that anyone would feel if abandoned on Mars.
Because of this, I feel as though there are fewer barriers between the reader and the protagonist – we’re seeing directly into Mark Watney’s head, unfiltered, unadulterated. It’s that rawness that really aids this novel, and makes it so that it feels so true to human nature and condition and survival. It made it so that I – a fifteen-year-old girl who would never even dream of going to Mars, and hasn’t the slightest interest in science – could relate to Mark Watney and his struggles.
On the topic of Mark Watney, it is clear from the outset that he is the funny guy. He is the guy that gets everyone on his feet and laughing. So what does he do when there’s no one there to cheer up? He cheers himself up.
Honestly, there are countless laugh-out-loud moments in this novel, and I frequently caught myself giggling at one of Mark’s jokes. Frankly, it’s not that Mark is the funniest character ever, it’s that he says the perfect things despite his dire situation and despite his decreasing chance of survival and despite being surrounded by things so boring, the most exciting thing is dust.
I also doubt that Mark’s humour is suited to everyone – he’s very sarcastic, and his jokes tend to be quickfire, and comparative. It is, however, definitely the humour that I enjoy the most, making it so that this book was that little bit more enjoyable for me.
The story isn’t just told by Mark, though – his diary entries are interrupted by brief visits to NASA workers back down on Earth who were trying to get Mark home. I really liked this aspect, as it allowed us to take a step back from Mark’s situation through his eyes, and see it for what it really was. It was also great to see what the NASA characters were planning to do to help, especially when Mark was not in contact with them.
Whilst some of the more scientific sections of the novel went over my head, I actually found – contrary to popular experience – that it was much easier to follow Mark’s exploits that I’d expected. I do, however, agree that it was difficult to get used to, but that soon passed, and I was very quickly immersed in this book.
Overall, I thought this book was a stunning representation of writing at its best. Andy Weir’s style is flawless, and this, along with his undeniable humour, made for a really thrilling reading experience. Hence, I obviously rated it 5/5 stars, and wouldn’t hesitate to give it a 6th star if I could.
But in the end, if everything goes to plan, I’ll have 92 square meters of crop-able soil.
Hell yeah I’m a botanist! Fear my botany powers!
Over the past few days, I’ve been happily making water. It’s been going swimmingly. (See what I did there? “Swimmingly”?)
But it never occurred to me that some of the hydrogen just wouldn’t burn. It got past the flame, and went on its merry way. Damn it, Jim, I’m a botanist, not a chemist!
[12:04] JPL: …Also, please watch your language. Everything you type is being broadcast live all over the world.
[12:15] WATNEY: Look! A pair of boobs! -> (.Y.)
The rover and the trailer regulate their own temperatures just fine, but things weren’t hot enough in the bedroom.
Story of my life.
Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped.
I guess you could call it a “failure”, but I prefer the term “learning experience.”
As with most of life’s problems, this one can be solved by a box of pure radiation.
Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” if I were the only remaining person.
What do you know? I’m in command.
It’s true, you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl.
If ruining the only religious icon I have leaves me vulnerable to Martian vampires, I’ll have to risk it.
They say once you grow crops somewhere, you have officially ‘colonised’ it. So technically, I colonised Mars.
In your face, Neil Armstrong!
I’m calling it the Watney Triangle because after what I’ve been through, shit on Mars should be named after me.
If you enjoyed _____, you’ll love The Martian!