I recently finished reading The Martian by Andy Weir on my brand-new Kindle (side note: I think I’ve been converted to eBooks…I never thought this would happen…but it’s just. so. CONVENIENT!) and long story short, I loved it!
I became interested in this book 1) because I like science fiction but especially 2) because it’s a self-published novel that BLEW UP in popularity and had a successful, popular movie adaptation (I haven’t seen the movie yet, but will watch it soon now that I’ve read the book). As a self-published author, this book represents a dream-come-true.
The book starts off with a team of astronauts on Mars who get caught in a sandstorm. The storm is so bad that they have to abort their mission and fly home only days (well, sols, in this case) after getting to the red planet. In all the chaos, astronaut Mark Watney is badly injured and lost in the storm, presumed dead and left behind as the other astronauts fly away. But, of course, he’s not dead. And now he has to figure out not only how to survive but how to get home.
This book is problem-solving session after problem-solving session, and it made my little engineer heart happy. If you’re a fan of the Apollo 13 movie (which obviously is based on a true story, not science fiction) imagine that but 1000x more complicated. The book is a roller coaster ride of “Oh, god, can’t Mark catch a break?” and “Oh yeah! Mark figured it out!” with a few “Oh no, Mark did NOT figure that one out!” thrown in for good measure.
My main criticism for the book is that the handful of chapters that are written in 3rd person (most of the book is in the form of daily logs from Mark) felt somewhat unfinished. They felt a little bare-boned (He said this then did that). At times it took away some of the heart of the story, as the only character that was really characterized effectively was Mark. But, we do spend the most time with Mark and he is the focal point of the story.
My only other criticism of this book is the ending. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the ending. On the one hand, it did make sense to end where it did, but my first reaction when I got to the last page was “Oh, that’s it?”.
Overall, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars, and would recommend to anyone who enjoys problem-solving!