by Billie Doux
The Martian is the story of an astronaut named Mark Watney who is presumed dead during the Ares 3 mission and left behind on Mars. Alone. With a habitat (the "Hab") and a limited amount of food, but no way to survive long enough for the arrival of the Ares 4 mission, years away and on the other side of the planet.
Instead of despairing, Mark Watney, a botanist and mechanical engineer, throws every ounce of his being into finding a way to survive, and he faces every life and death situation that Mars throws at him with perseverance, McGyver-like ingenuity, and a wonderful sense of humor. Although we also hear from the rest of the Ares 3 crew as well as NASA, much of the book is written in first person and I fell completely and totally in love with Mark Watney. He made me care about him from the first page to the last, and I laughed out loud, over and over again. I even cried a little at one point.
That said, I'm the first to admit that this book is a nerd-fest. It reeks of scientific accuracy. There wasn't a single moment that struck me as unrealistic or unbelievable (except perhaps that he had a few too many challenges), and if it weren't so readable, it would feel a little like a non-fiction account. It reminded me a lot of Kim Robinson's Mars trilogy, except it was only one volume, a lot more fun to read, and with much better characters. (Sorry about that, Kim.)
This was one of the best books I've read in years. I could not put it down. If you like realistic science fiction, I highly recommend it. This is Andy Weir's first novel, and it was originally self-published. I hope he's working on his second, because I'll buy it. Although I somehow doubt it could be as enjoyable and special as this one. I honestly don't know how he could top it.
P.S. I'm in the middle of a cross-country move from California to Pennsylvania, which is why I begged Jess and sunbunny to help me out with my show reviews -- no DVR, and no way to be sure I could actually catch the show! But I enjoyed this book so much as I languished in motel rooms that I had to write a quick review and share the love.
Four out of four dehydrated potatoes,
Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.