The Martian | Andy Weir

The Martian| Andy Weir


So that’s the situation. I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last thirty-one days.
If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.
So yeah. I’m fucked.

How do you take a story of a lone man, isolated and trapped in a desert wasteland in outer space for hundreds of days and make it compelling to read? Well, Weir does in this three ways:

  1. Our protagonist, Mark Watney is a funny narrator. He’s trapped on a godforsaken planet and yet he manages to have a really humorous voice. Also he’s incredibly optimistic.
  2. Mars is not just a desert. It’s got no atmosphere. It’s freezing cold. There are limited supplies there sent up by NASA. Mars provides numerous challenges that Watney has to face, keeping the story interesting.
  3. Not all of it happens on Mars. The Earth is watching. This adds tension to the story and hope, the latter of which is a really important element to the book.

The MartianI really enjoyed reading The Martian. It is exactly the right balance of hard SF and entertaining storytelling for me.  Mark Watney is a botanist and an engineer, plus he has lots of knowledge on Mars itself and the missions that have previously been sent there. He spends a lot of the book repurposing equipment such as spacesuits and oxygenators and this requires a lot of precise maths. Watney often skips the maths but includes the explanation in pretty simple terms. If you’re going to include real science in your book, this is how you do it. For someone who has not studied science in many years, although some of it went over my head I was never confused as to what was happening and it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the book.

Watney’s humour keeps the book interesting, but  as mentioned, the new challenges that he faces keep the plot interesting. Weir finds a nice balance between a new challenge for the astronaut to face versus despair that he’s never going to make it. It’s not grim and it doesn’t beat you down with the idea that being stranded on Mars is a death sentence. There is always some hope and you really don’t know whether he’s going to survive or not.

Just once I’d like something to go as planned, ya know?
Mars keeps trying to kill me.

The book is told mostly as a log entries by Mark as he documents his stay on Mars. However, once the chapters based on Earth hit, we no longer have just just a first person perspective but a third person viewpoint on Earth. This includes people at NASA and his crew that are flying away on the Hermes spacecraft home and believe him to be dead. As a result there are parts of the book filled with dramatic irony as the people on Earth studying Mars can see dangers approaching but have no way of warning the Martian. It’s compelling to see whether Watney will figure out the problem and if so, how he will respond and if not, whether he will survive.

A really good and accessible book, I highly recommend it!

Have you read The Martian? What did you think? Also look at how beautiful that cover is!

7 thoughts on “The Martian | Andy Weir

  1. This is a wonderful review, Arub! ❤

    I'm not sure if I'll ever get around to reading this book, but you made it sound really intriguing, despite my not being the biggest fan of the Science Fiction genre. Have you seen the movie adaption as well?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lily! It’s a lot of fun but it’s not the lightest science fiction book, just a warning! I haven’t yet, I like to stick to the ‘read the book first’ rule haha!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The humour is great! I don’t know whether it would be bearable to read without Mark’s voice. I look forward to seeing the film version now, glad to hear that the humour translated onto the adaptation!

      Liked by 1 person

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