The Martian by Andy Weir

Posted On 6 July 2014

Filed under Book Reviews
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I’ve just finished reading the Martian.  Firstly, wow – what an ending!  I was gripped, I could cry right now and I’m exhausted having read the full thing in virtually one day and holding my breath for long bouts when the tension cranked up – I think I’m oxygen starved!

I don’t think I’m giving away much when I say the Martian is about an astronaut (Mark Watney) who gets left behind on Mars!  In a nutshell, when the crew are making ready to depart an accident occurs that leaves one of them injured, believed dead and out of sight.  The crew, believing there is no hope, and also facing a high storm, reluctantly leave without the body!  When Mark wakes up he’s on his own, injured and without any real hope of survival or rescue!  But, this is a resourceful guy!  Planet earth may be blue but there’s plenty Mark can do.  If this was me, well, apart from the fact I wouldn’t be on such a mission in the first place, I would probably curl up in a ball, Mark, however, is a real fighter and so our story begins.

First things first, basics.  Food, water oxygen, then communication, then rescue!  These are the problems Mark has to solve and let’s just say he’s a creative thinker!  Sci fi fans will love the creativity and ingenious thinking.  I won’t deny that there’s lots of number crunching, equations, ratios – you name it, anything that my brain usually struggles with is thrown in here – and yet it’s done in a way that doesn’t leave you mind boggled.  On top of that Mark’s sense of humour in the face of such dire circumstances is positively heart warming.   He’s a botanist – fear his botany powers!  The whole growing crops aboard his little station is so inventive – not to mention his creativity about fertilisation, ahem.   Put bluntly, it’s one of those books where you alternate between thinking he’s going to die to breathing a sigh of relief, to thinking he’s going to die, to breathing – yeah, you get it!  Then, just in the nick of time, because that could become tedious – we have the inclusion of the people on earth, what’s going on at NASA the public frenzy generated by the media trying to discover what exactly is going on when they realise Mark is still alive!  I enjoyed those elements and thought they brought something extra to the story.  It’s difficult after all for one man to completely carry the story.

The story is told by Mark as he records his actions on a log and treats us to his life and death escapades with a little humour thrown in between as he comments on his only form of entertainment – 1970s tv and disco music.

In terms of criticisms… well, the sci fi problems and solutions could prove a bit much for some people.  Personally I enjoyed the creativity involved but I admit that the inclusion of ‘the earth rescue’ section came at just the right time and stopped the book from becoming too set in a pattern.  Also, I wouldn’t say that the characters are deeply explored – this is more a book about survival and the human will to live at all costs – it’s not a deeply emotional or reflective book so if you’re looking for that element you may be disappointed.  This is more a one man action/survival story with a gripping ‘will he/won’t he’ conclusion.

Personally I was pretty much glued to the page – not like I’d glued my hand there with resin or anything (you need to read the book for that reference) – in fact, towards the end, it feels like everyone on planet earth is watching Mark’s progress, gripped with tension and holding their breath and I literally felt like I was one of them!

I received a copy from Netgalley – many thanks to the publisher.  The above is my own opinion.


26 Responses to “The Martian by Andy Weir”

  1. Writesy

    I’m hooked from just reading your review! Stories/films about space have never been one of my favourite concepts, but this is something that seems promising. Adding it to my TBR list. Great review!

    • lynnsbooks

      I hope you enjoy it. I don’t read a lot of sci fi, I tend to focus more on fantasy/history but I thought this was very good.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Rabindranauth

    Yea, Mark never loses his head. Which makes sense, when you consider they would only pick the mentally toughest people to become astronauts. I loved this book! Mark’s an ass. ( .Y. ) 😀

    P.S. I was disappointed he never tried to distil vodka from all those potatoes.

    • lynnsbooks

      haha, I never thought of that – a bit of Moonshine (no pun intended)!
      Lynn 😀

  3. brideofthebookgod

    I’m looking forward to reading this Lynn, so thanks for the review. I have it on my Kindle app but didn’t want to read it too close to James Smythe’s The Explorer which has a similar theme (but otherwise pretty different, I think).

    • lynnsbooks

      Hah, I’ve heard of The Explorer but not read it – have you reviewed it? Must have missed that, will stop on over and have a look.
      Lynn 😀

      • brideofthebookgod

        Yes I have, and the sequel which I bought and read immediately. Do pop over, always welcome 🙂

      • lynnsbooks

        on my way…

  4. Marianne

    This sounds interesting!

    • lynnsbooks

      It’s quite a fast paced story – it felt shorter to me than it really was as I was quite taken with it. There is a lot of sci fi contained within it but I didn’t think it was overpowering and the fight for survival becomes really gripping.
      Lynn 😀

  5. hlmorris85

    That sounds really fascinating. I’ll have to check it out.

    • lynnsbooks

      I hope you enjoy it. I wasn’t sure how I’d get on because sci fi is something I’m only dipping my toe into. It’s definitely not got the sort of characterisation that you sometimes get with fantasy, for example, but it was a good fairly fast paced survival story.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Mogsy

    Everyone seems to be reading this one these days! ARGH, now I’m even more excited to get to my audiobook.

    • lynnsbooks

      I’m a bit late with this one to be honest but I did want to read it!
      Lynn 😀

  7. fence

    This one got a bit of coverage a month or two ago, so I picked it up, but I still have to actually get to reading it, soon hopefully.

    • lynnsbooks

      I hope you enjoy it. I found it a very quick read. I imagine sci fi fans must love all the technical explanations!
      Lynn 😀

  8. Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

    I’ve heard nothing but great things about this one – and that his inner monologue is really great. But you know – CAST AWAY was pretty great as well and I found myself bored out of my mind. Unfortunately I just don’t think I’ll pick this one up. The ‘thinking he’s going to die, sigh of relief, next hurdle to overcome’ sort of thing…yeah I’d maybe start banging my head on something.

    • lynnsbooks

      I know what you mean with the wash, rinse, repeat, style – I was glad when it was broken up with a bit of dialogue from folks back on planet earth. His inner dialogue was pretty funny!
      Lynn 😀

      • Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

        I heard that his inner dialogue made it totally worth it.

      • lynnsbooks

        It was pretty good I mean, i’m not as big on sci fi but I try to fit some books in – there is quite a bit of techno babble going on here (okay, maths – which is practically the same!) but it didn’t put me off! It’s probably not for everyone though and I was glad when other characters were involved – it felt a bit more broken up then!
        Lynn 😀

  9. My best reads for 2014 | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] The Martian by Andy Weir speaking of the hype monster – this book takes the biscuit.  It takes the monster to the next level.  This is the hype kraken.  And you’ll be pleased to know the hype is justified.  This book is really good and you won’t forget the main protagonist in a hurry!  Very entertaining. […]

  10. Carmen

    I read it and loved it. It made my “best of the year” list. His fight for survival was always credible and his humor made me believe he could overcome the minor obstacle of being stranded on Mars on his own. 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      It’s a really gripping read isn’t it. I think it was also really well played bringing in the ‘earth’ element about half way through, otherwise it would have become too formulaic.
      It will be interesting to see how the movie compares.
      Lynn 😀

  11. Ode to Summer past… |

    […] The Martian by Andy Weir – this book is just so good, with lots of amusement. […]

  12. Never say Never | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Martian by Andy Weir […]

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