Book Review: The Martian

The Martian by Andy Weir




Genre: Sci-Fi
Author: Andy Weir
Published: October 2014 {this ed. Originally pub. 2011}
Publisher: Broadway Books
Pages: 387 {paperback}

Original review on Goodreads

The Martian

Quick note: This book is fiction. This is not based off a true story. Even if it’s pretty darn believable.

“Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” if I were the only remaining person.
“What do you know? I’m in command”

This book was absolutely incredible. There was a huge amount of hype over it as the movie, starring Matt Damon (breathe ladies), was released in late(ish) 2015. I, however, was on a book-buying ban and so couldn’t read it. I suppose in hindsight I could’ve just gone to the library . . . but I wanted to OWN it. It’s a tough life.

Essentially, this is the story of an astronaut, Mark Watney, and his experiences after the disastrous Mars mission that he was on. You probably all know by now that during a dangerous storm the crew had to abort and, whoops, left Watney behind. It’s absolutely a fantastic read and I wouldn’t hesitate to peg this as a “must-read”. Whilst I didn’t place this on my all time favourites list, it sure came close. Perhaps the fact that I imagined Matt Damon as Watney the whole time made this book that much more enjoyable for me, but who cares – I don’t have any problems crediting its success to Damon’s charms. There’s a whole bunch of technical science involved and some wonderful sarcasm that entirely makes the books. Don’t fret it if you’re not scientifically minded (I’m sure not), Watney is great for explaining things in an easy to understand way, or at least in a manner that’s just entertaining all round. His humour is on point and I love how nonplus he acts about his whole situation. And also his hate of disco, tis quite a laugh.

“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.”

Why is the book so good?

I think the fact that has made this story such a success is the brilliance of the storytelling and the way that you absolutely fall in love with the hilarity of Watney’s attitude to his situation. There’s never a mention that he’s in a relationship or much about his life outside of being a sassy astronaut. In that sense, there’s a lot of filling in the blanks left to you, as the reader, to complete. However, that extra element is entirely optional and nonessential for the overall enjoyment of the book.

One of the coolest things about the story that completely blew my mind was how Watney “sciences the shit out of this”. Some of the little inventions that he comes up with are insane. He’s doing the impossible. It’s not going to be until 4 years time that the next mission comes so unless he finds a way to contact earth (signal is down because a lot of things broke in the storm) he’s reasonably screwed. And it makes for a thrilling plot.

“Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”

He’s a completely lovable character so you’ll find yourself worried to death over his prospects and, if you’re anything like me, realising how inept you are when it comes to survival. I seriously wouldn’t even be able to think up a quarter of the things he does. Heck, if I got stranded in the wilderness I would probably fail to even make a fire!

“I started the day with some nothin’ tea. Nothin’ tea is easy to make. First, get some hot water, then add nothin’.”

Science galore

There is no way this book would have worked if it wasn’t for the enormous effort that Weir has clearly put in to creating this book. Everything in the story that Watney uses and creates (whether it’s using space suits for holding water, or burning hydrogen to use the leftover oxygen to make the water), apparently it’s all true. Obviously I can’t verify any of this, my specialty is history not rocket science, point aside it makes for a truly compelling read. The best books (from any genre) always come from the authors who dedicate a tonne of time to making sure the fine details are accurate. Apparently Weir even created his own software in order to work out some of the proper orbits that would occur around Mars, or something like that. I just love to know that if I ever find myself stranded on Mars fully equipped with oodles of NASA stuff, and this book, then I might stand a chance.

“Problem is (follow me closely here, the science is pretty complicated), if I cut a hole in the Hab, the air won’t stay inside anymore.”

NASA, to infinity and beyond!

Okay, I can’t go a whole space book review and not reference Toy Story. NASA has a big role to play in this book, seeing as they’ve accidentally left one of their guys on Mars. Yikes. Their extreme efforts that went into engineering equipment to bring him back had a real Apollo 13 (the movie with Tom Hanks) feel to it. They’re all working extra over time to put together impossible solutions to pro-long Watney’s life expectancy until they can get to him. It’s pretty stressful. But the best part that involves NASA in this book is the way that Watney paints them. He’s a complete and beautiful idiot and freely writes inappropriate things when they tell him to watch his language. When Watney is describing equipment to us he often finish it off by saying that it’s just a more expensive version of >>insert household item here<< because, NASA. Except for duct tape, even NASA can’t outdo duct tape.

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

Who should read this and why you should read this

Just trust me on this, you’re bound to enjoy this adventure. This is the definition of sci-fi (sans mechanical dragons, unfortunately) so if you enjoy that genre or are looking to get into it then this is 100% the book for you. Every step of the way is immensely enjoyable and despite Watney’s dire circumstances you’ll be cackling away with all the quips he has to offer. I would genuinely recommend this book to everyone, to you reading this, because even if you don’t get along in the end I think it’s worth a try. I would love to present this book with an award for being the most quotable piece of literature on Earth (har har). This is honestly a read not to be missed! I can’t wait to sit down and watch the movie now.

“If ruining the only religious icon I have leaves me vulnerable to Martian vampires, I’ll have to risk it.”

Have you read The Martian? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts below!

Arrivederci tutti and happy reading!

~~ Kirstie ~~

View all my reviews

5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Martian

  1. Loved it! I read the entire book aloud to my boyfriend. The only thing that irritated me was the extravagant use of the word “said” during the dialogue (he said, she said… Pick a different word!). A minor impediment to a great book. -Emmy

    Liked by 1 person

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