Saturday, September 19, 2015

"The Martian" by Andy Weir

I was, perhaps, a little too excited for this one. I admit, reading all those positive reviews floating about the blogosphere, as a book blogger, you can't help but get more than a bit amped up to read something just about everyone is buzzing about. Because of the Snowflake and Spidersilk Bingo Card, I decided to add this as an audiobook as well, despite having the ebook version handy already.

The beginning was probably the most impressive (and immersive) part of the book for me. You get to know Mark, his situation (which doesn't look very hopeful), but you also realize how resilient he is, despite being pretty much doomed. My favorite parts to listen to were the 'meanwhile, back on Earth' bits, as the narrator did a splendid job with the voices/inflections.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'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 & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he 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 isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?'

The parts I enjoyed most were Mark's attitude and snark, which kept me reading, even if I found him a bit too sunny for a man about to starve to death. The plot, while enthralling at points, often lost me when Mark went off the wayside with his engineering ingenuity, something I'll expound upon below. The 'back on Earth' chapters became my favorite as the book drew on, mostly because as much as Mark was an awesome protagonist, without interaction between characters, I find myself a bit bored with things.

The big issue with me is that I grew up with a father who was just about as zany as Mark when it came to everyday solutions. If something was wrong with one of our cars, he'd rather jury-rig it than go and buy a part, leading to my mom having to hotwire our van for the past several years we lived with him. So when Mark went all MacGyver, I knew what would happen, even though I couldn't grasp the science behind it. And when the cycle he got into repeated itself, all I wanted to do was this:

I did find some issues with some of the plot points/food (since I'm rather OCD about food), especially with some spoilers, which I will hide for those of you who haven't read this yet (Highlight to view): the youngest astronaut, Johanssen, is supposed to eat her crewmates if their plan to rescue Mark goes awry. The problem? They would commit suicide using pills. I'm not sure which pills they were planning to take, but even on the off chance the pills won't spoil Johanssen's meals (eww), plain old strangulation would be a better bet. Sure, that's macabre of me to even think about, but I just found it odd that detail wasn't more ironed out, since this has since been 'traditionally' published. Also, Mark eventually mentions eating 'raw potatoes'. Unless you want to be ill- NEVER eat raw potatoes. It was never mentioned that he got ill from eating them, which I find a little difficult to believe, given a little Googling leads me to suspect raw potatoes are a serious no-go.

The Martian is a fun book to read, but needed some extra polish when it comes to my other obsession, food. I loved the concept, but part of me grew tired with the incessant- "well this happened, here's this semi-probable solution I'll complete to fix it", due in part to my patriarch driving me up a wall with his own jury-rig-itis. I recommend it to those interested in space, but I'll remind you to do yourself a favor and don't jury-rig. It just ain't worth it.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars for a great space odyssey with a little too much ingenuity.

Content: Ages 16+ for swearing (including f-bombs) and the occasional sexual reference.

Page Count: 369 pages


  1. I just saw the trailer for the upcoming movie based on this book and it looked really good! I never knew this book existed so maybe I'll give it a read before I go and see the movie. At least to get the gist of the story. It really sucks that it wasn't up to the challenge of being an awesome book :(

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. I think for some people it definitely will be/is an awesome book, but for me, there were too many distractions from the story. What I love about book reviews is no two will be the same, because everyone experiences a book a little differently. I wanted to see this movie, so I figured I should read it first, and I'm definitely glad I did.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Laura!
      ~Litha Nelle


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