Book Review: The Martian


I think I'm suffering from whiplash. Remember how I hated my reading material last week? Ugh. It was brutal.

Then this week I ended up on the opposite end of the spectrum. In fact, I loved, loved, loved every minute of Andy Weir's The Martian.

I pick up the book right before boarding a flight and by the time I landed, I was obsessed with the journey of a man who was left by himself on the surface of Mars.

I was seriously bummed when the story ended.

I can't tell you how things wrap up (I'm no spoiler), but I can tell you the time on Mars is not only fascinating, but hilarious.

The story is told primarily through the voice of the man left behind, Mark Watney, who keeps a log about his days: a long, rambling, no-holds-barred log.  It's amazing. Aside from a regular clip of swearing, he manages to recount his technical struggles and his incredible efforts to survive, all the while maintaining a fantastic sense of humor.

I love a book where the lead character doesn't live in all earnestness, even when Mars is getting the best of him.

For instance, this is a set up in contrasts between what's happening on earth at NASA and (the second paragraph) what's going on with Mark:

“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.”

We learn about annoying mishaps. For instance, Mark tries to take a computer outside, but the results don't go well.

“The screen went black before I was out of the airlock. Turns out the 'L' in 'LCD' stands for 'Liquid.' I guess it either froze or boiled off. Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. 'Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working.' 0/10."

The book takes scientific events and makes them accessible...

“I'm even going to electrolyze my urine. That'll make for a pleasant smell in the trailer. If I survive this, I'll tell people I was pissing rocket fuel.”

Of course, he's sometimes philosophical:

“Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but I’m not dead, so it’s a win.”

and often makes wry observations:

“Also, I have duct tape. Ordinary duct tape, like you buy at a hardware store. Turns out even NASA can’t improve on duct tape.”

Come to think of it, the character has a thing for duct tape.

“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”

I could quote the book for days, but not without tripping up some spoilers.  Just read the book.

If you're not a reader, the movie is coming out October 2nd and if it's half as entertaining as the book, it's going to be amazing. As for me, I can't wait!