THIS is why I love the internet. Because I hear so many glowing reviews about a new book, and I get really excited for it, and I take the risk and buy it in hardcover, and it totally is as awesome as everyone says it is.
Mark Watney and his crew have been on Mars for six days when a dust storm crops up, forcing an emergency evacuation. But in the chaos, Mark is mistaken for dead and when he comes to, he realizes that he’s been left behind. He’s alone, on Mars. No one knows that he’s alive, and he has no way to tell anyone. Now it’s up to him to figure out how to survive until the next planned Mars mission - four years away. His current mission was only supposed to be 31 days long, so he’ll run out of food, water, and oxygen long before then. Luckily, Mark is a botanist and an engineer, so surely he can think up something… right?
There are three main things about this book that made is so fantastic:
Humor: You KNOW that making me laugh is one of the surest ways to get me to love a book, and this book had it. Mark has that dark, twisted sense of humor that I love. Like… Christopher Moore, or Chandler from Friends, or… someone else. I don’t know, examples are hard. But it was great. Mark is that guy who will make people laugh in any shitty situation, except you know, he’s by himself. You would think that a book has basically ONE character might get a little boring, but his sense of humor kept it really engaging. I didn’t want to put it down.
- Tension: There were some serious nail-biting situations in this book. I mean, the whole book has you rooting for Mark to stay alive, but you’re also super nervous and sure that something’s going to go wrong. And it all feels so REAL.
- Space nerd-ery: I love space, and physics, and science, and so all of this just tickled my fancy. Mark explains any technical stuff really clearly as he’s thinking through what he has to do, and it’s pretty awesome. And according to Astronaut Chris Hadfield, this book has “fascinating technical accuracy”, so I’m glad to hear that most of the science is sound.
The other thing I love about this book is kind of hard to articulate, but I’ll try. I love that it presented the idea of travelling to Mars as not only possible, but something NASA has done and is planning to do repeatedly. It kind of drives me crazy that people don’t think we have the technology to get there. We do. It’s basically a lack of motivation (and hence, money) that has kept us from trying to get to Mars. I also love that it shows how far ingenuity can get you. Mars is a harsh environment that could kill a person in a lot of simple ways, BUT, astronauts are intelligent and adaptable. And lastly, I love that it shows the passion for space that people, especially astronauts, have. Going to space is incredibly dangerous, and yet there are people who are still willing, who still want, to do it. That’s an awesome thing.
And now, I leave you with some of my favorite quotes:
“Commander Lewis was in charge. I was just one of her crew. Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” of the mission if I were the only remaining person.
What do you know? I’m in command.”
“LOG ENTRY: SOL 61
How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”
“I unraveled Martinez’s bed and took the string outside, then taped it to the trailer hull along the path I planned to cut. Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped.”
Alright well picking out quotes was a lot harder than I thought, because a lot of the good ones are a bit spoiler-y, so just freaking read it, will you? It’s fantastic.
Sarah Says: 5 stars
P.S. - Andy Weir, if you ever happen to read this, please write more books about space. You’re really good at it.