ebook, 300 pages.
Read from March 10 to 21, 2015.
I’m not normally a big science fiction fan but this book kept bombarding my Goodreads newsfeed so I figured I’d give it a try. This book absolutely exploded the year it was released and it is now being made into a big Hollywood movie which is expected to be released November 2015. Relatively unknown before the publication of this book, the author Andy Weir, is the son of a particle physicist and was caught up in the world of science fiction at a young age. He studied computer science, though he apparently didn’t graduate, not that it stopped him from him from working as a programmer and at some pretty big name companies like AOL and Blizzard. He actually worked on Warcraft 2 which I think is pretty awesome! I love that game. I’m tell you all this because it’s relevant to the content of this book as only someone with this kind of background could write a novel like this. This book is so hugely appealing because of the effort that Weir takes to make it realistic. This not only displays Weir’s intelligence but also his talent, as he manages to add some pretty technical aspects to this novel but it never loses its readability. It’s apparent that Weir enjoys puzzles and problems and his enjoyment comes through his words in this book.
Mark Watney is one of the first astronauts to land on Mars and with the way things are going he may the be the first to die there. Mark is a very funny, witty, intelligent and remarkably resourceful person. Apparently NASA selected him for the this mission for his optimism and sense of humor as, psychologically, it’s a good mix to have while being in space for years. Mark heads out to Mars with his team of other remarkably brilliant people to Mars to do a routine mission. However when a bad wind storm picks up Mark is thrown away from his team and his suit is pierced and the equipment in it malfunctions. His poor team, thinking, and for good reason, that he is dead pack up their stuff and head back on the almost year long trip back to Earth. The book opens with Mark’s first realization that he his trapped on Mars with no way of communicating back to Earth that he is alive. NASA does eventually figure out that Mark is alive but the trouble is the publicity that this scenario has created back on Earth and the real dilemma of trying to rescue him before he runs out of food.
Where the book gets technical is with Mark’s brainstorming and problem solving. I’m no genius so I haven no idea how plausible the scenarios in the book are but they sure seem like they could be, so that’s a mission accomplished in my books. The situations and feats that Mark accomplishes to save his own skin on Mars is truly remarkable. As a reader, you’re anxiously awaiting to see how Mark solves his next trial in order to keep himself alive. What makes this book even better is that the chapters are written as a space log. Mark is recording his events on Mars to have some sort of documentation of what happens to him while he is on Mars, and not only are they remarkable but some of them are down right hilarious. He is so frank and honest in the logs because he doesn’t think that anyone will ever get a chance to listen to them. From cursing and despair, to commentary on the terrible entertainment his crew members left behind, Mark is a character I would love to meet and would definitely love to read more of. I’m anxious to see the movie now.
You don’t need to be a science fiction lover to enjoy this novel, but it never hurts to bring out your inner nerd.