Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Martian

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When a freak dust storm scrubs the Ares 3 mission and Mark Watney is left for dead, he finds himself alone on Mars. Can he survive alone on an alien world until NASA is able to save him as his equipment breaks down and his supplies dwindle?

I have an aversion to any book that is over-hyped. Most of them wind up being crap and, besides, I already have more than enough things to read. Sometimes, you just have to stop being a stubborn asshole and let yourself get swept up in the hype of a critical darling.

The Martian is a hard science fiction novel about one man being stranded on Mars and trying not to die. It features such riveting activities as growing potatoes using your own feces as part of the soil and repair work on multiple pieces of equipment.

What keeps The Martian from becoming a yawn-fest is the way it is told by Mark Watney in a series of journal entries. Mark is a funny guy, serving up such gems as "My asshole is doing as much to keep me alive as my brain." He's also a Martian McGyver, fixing and re-purposing a lot of his equipment, including the Pathfinder probe, which he drove across the Martian surface in a rover to find.

The humor keeps the story going even during the dull times. Thankfully, Mark is funny without being obnoxious about it and Weir has the chops to know when the tone needs to be more serious. He also has the timing to get the most of his one-liners.

Once NASA finds out Watney is alive, they scramble to figure out a way to get him back as he battles problems like running out of air, too much water, and his growing dislike of potatoes and 1970's television. There were some pretty tense moments, especially near the end. This book has "blockbuster" written all over it when it inevitably becomes a movie.

I blazed thought this in three sittings and would have been perfectly willing to read about more of Mark's trials and tribulations, as well as his comrades on the Hermes on their long journey back to Earth. Andy Weir has hit a home run with The Martian. I'll be anxious to see what else he can do. 4 out of 5 stars.

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