The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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19 comments

  1. I love buying books in hardcover. Or I guess, I love having a nice new hardcover book. It feels so luxurious and decadent. Also this sounds great, and the first thing I will do when I get it from the library is flip to the end to discover whether he survives and is rescued. Because tension/suspense? I cannot handle it.

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  2. This book sounds like it deserves all of the accolades that it’s getting. Have you heard about the indie bookstore in Virginia that decided to use this book as a “trust fall”? They knew their customers might not go for this book if they knew what it was about, so they pitched it like “We love this book and believe you will, too. Buy this book from us without knowing what it’s about, because you trust us as booksellers. 100% satisfaction guaranteed or full refund.” They sold a TON of this book that way.

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  3. Loved this review, Sarah! You made me want to run out and buy this book, which I am not going to do – I’m going to put it on hold at the library instead. Very interesting what Emily (above me) said about the bookstore in Virginia.

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  4. I’ve been hearing so much about this book. I absolutely want to read it! It just sounds so different, and when it starts to feel like you’re reading the same stories over and over again, this sounds like just that thing to shake it up.

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  5. “BUT, astronauts are intelligent and adaptable.” – that took me back to this day when we watched the movie Prometheus in the movie theater last summer. (Not sure if you’ve seen it.) There were like this bunch of scientists, who went to explore some other world. Like The Scientists, the Smartest People. Geniuses picked from among thousands and thousands of people. Creme de la cream, you catch my drift. So they enter this weird cavern/cave whatever that is full of some weird .. things and some odd goo, let’s say. And a few of them TAKE OFF THEIR HELMET. In a completely alien world where you have no knowledge of what the air is made of or what evil little substances might be lurking around or what this VERY SUSPICIOUS LOOKING GOO might do to you. (It is probably easily guessed that goo’s gonna do some evil things.)

    Moral of this long story is of course that yes, astronauts are extremely intelligent and adaptable. It was just a crap movie.

    Oh and also I need to read this book like very soon.

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  6. I want to read this book so bad now! But then I think of movies like Alien and Gravity and Prometheus and I’m thinking that it’ll be unnerving for me to read such a nail-biter of a book, but yay humor! I’ll flip a coin on this one.

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  7. We need more Andy Weirs to help incite the space program and help get people psyched about space exploration again. How far we’ve fallen since all the excitement of the 60s. That being said, I haven’t read this but hope to soon! I bought it immediately upon release.

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  8. Yay! You read it and loved it! Isn’t this book amazing!?! I could gush about it for days. Much like you I’m also obsessed with space books and the humor and tension in this just made it so much better. I hope Andy Weir writes lots more like this in the future!!!

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  9. I’ve got much more daring about buying books in hardcover lately, and I think that’s because of the enthusiasm of fellow book bloggers raving about them. I think it was your tweets about The Martian that confirmed that no, I did NOT want to wait for the paperback before reading it, that I MUST HAVE IT NOW. And now your review has moved it right up my to-read pile too. Thank you. I’ve only really got into science fiction in the last year, but it’s reminded me of how much I was fascinated by the solar system and the idea of space travel as a little girl. I’d completely forgotten that until recently.

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  10. I have not heard of this book until your review, but yes, I think I need this. Especially for that Aquaman quote. Space and physics are not my fav things, but this sound interesting enough that I think I’d enjoy regardless.

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  11. Feel free to put this book in my personal loan pile at your house. I’ll pick it up when I’m dropping off the ones I currenlty borrowed. You’re like my own personal library! XOXO sis!

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  12. The more I hear about this book, the more I want it to read it. Like immediately. Very immediately. Kind of nervous that it’ll be very Gravity (the movie) ish. It’s weird that similar stuff always comes out near each other. Going to try not to compare, though.

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  13. I’ve read so many great reviews of this book and I’m excited to read it soon. It’s one of my most anticipated reads this year and that cover was just too tempting to ignore 🙂 I’ve watched Gravity and I kinda liked it so I’m really looking forward to reading this soon.

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  14. I agree fully with the review. I bought it as an audiobook to listen to while I’m driving around at work and I have to say that it’s been the most enjoyable one I’ve listened to in ages. Most space based science fiction is set in the distant future, But this one feels like it’s meant to happen in the next 10 to 20 years, So no “Laser pistols” or “Quantum plasma photon drive” thingys to propel any space ships. Everything seems to be based in plausible science fact, But it doesn’t get overly techy, and explains any hard to grasp concepts really well.

    The dark humour’s really well implemented too. Several times today I’ve been laughing so hard that I must have looked like I was having a seizure to other road users. 🙂

    Out of a 11 hour audio file I’m about 8 hours through it so far, And I can’t wait to hear the rest tomorrow……. But I’m also feeling a little sad that I know there’s only another 3 hours of this great book left for me to enjoy.

    As it stands, It’ll have to go down hill really badly in it’s last 3 hours for this NOT to become my new favorite book of all time !!!!

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    1. I started to listen to the audiobook just for fun after already having read the book… but I never finished it. It was a library borrow, and the guy’s voice didn’t match the voice in my head from when I read it in paper. Glad you’re enjoying!

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