- The Martian
- Andy Wier
- Broadway Books
- Released February 11, 2014
- 4 Stars
Mark Watney is screwed. Stranded on Mars with no communication after the rest of his crew was forced to evacuate, Watney has to find a way to survive Mars, and somehow get back to Earth in the process.
I think I just rediscovered my love for survival stories.
For a time when I was younger, I was obsessed with Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet series. It wasn’t even that anything so special happened in the story; I just devoured up all the details– how exactly did Brian cook? what food did he eat? what weapons did he use? how did he make his shelter?
Same thing with Andy Weir’s The Martian– I was riveted by the smallest elements. The Martian is a very specific read, sharing details down to the exact amount of food Mark Watney had available and the mechanics of how he created water (and apparently much of the book is accurate to strategies that are actually present in space exploration today!). I ate it up. Watney’s situation was so foreign and so fascinating to me that I wanted to know everything. I was transfixed to the point where I may or may not have stayed up all night reading it.
Characterwise, Watney is such a likeable protagonist. He’s resourceful, optimistic, cynical, funny, and not about to let any of the countless obstacles sent his way stop him from survival. It was refreshing to have a character in a precarious situation that did not spend all of his time wallowing in self-pity; sure, he complains, but you can tell that he doesn’t waste time on fruitless pursuits and instead invests all of his brain power into surviving. Weir painted a character I found myself rooting for every step of the way.
And the way this book was set up! Watney’s portions are written as log entries that gave his voice a very personal feel and allowed the reader to get to know his personality right off the bat. Interspersed between these log entries were third person narratives of how the people on Earth were following the situation. It was so fun to see the outside perspective after reading Watney’s personal entries, and I really got a sense of the frustration that results in inability to communicate.
At face value, The Martian is literally just a play-by-play of a man stuck on Mars enduring all sorts of hardships, yet Andy Weir was able to pull it off in an engaging way, using a fascinating premise, a likeable protagonist, and an uplifting story.