Book Review: The Martian

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t give out 5-star ratings on this site, and I just did.

I could not put this book down. The story easily sucked me in, and as soon as it ended I wanted more. Throughout Mark Watney’s ordeal I imagined myself there, I felt the feelings I imagine he would have felt, and I grew anxious time after time as things went wrong for him. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, then I laughed at myself for the fact that BEING STRANDED ALONE ON MARS WITHOUT PLAUSIBLE HOPE OF RESCUE in the first place wasn’t enough for me to ignore that feeling. I wanted to meet these astronauts and NASA crew members, and when the story ended I felt as though I was saying goodbye to friends. It’s not often I get this sucked into a story.

The only times I was temporarily jarred out of being completely engrossed in what was happening to Mark Watney were when his one-liners reached beyond plucky and instead felt unnaturally dismissive of exactly how crummy his situation was. I get it; joking about his situation would have helped him through spending a year and a half alone on Mars, but perhaps this went a bit too far, to the point where it felt artificial. Alternately, perhaps the absence of any real deep, negative reflection of the situation and the traumatic impact it would have on any human was what turned the plucky jokes into something unnaturally jovial. Then again, would we have kept reading if all of that had made it into the book? Too much of a downer then? Hmmm…

I’m reading some of the arguments here about the accuracy of the author Andy Weir’s jargon, math, and science, and I could see that being a problem for those among us who are astrophysicists or the like, able to fact-check in very close detail. To the lay person such as myself (who is admittedly a science/space geek, so my BS meter might be a little bit stronger than the average bear’s), I doubt that the author’s apparently well-researched references will cause any issues. For the record, I am the type of person who will quickly lose interest in a movie or book that’s meant to treat a topic seriously when it obviously fudges on its research, so this isn’t an assessment I make lightly. Perfect or no, I felt that the majority of the author’s science held at least enough water to keep this ship afloat. (In fact, I was especially sucked into the story when the Pathfinder made its entrance into Mark’s journey, as this is something I’ve actually researched in detail previously, just for fun. ha!) As soon as I finished reading the book I started searching online as a way to fact-check the author’s fact-checking, so to speak, and find out how he managed to cram so much detail into this story.

NPR’s Andy Weir interview: http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/…

Andy Weir’s Google talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMfuL…

View all my reviews

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