I have finally read science-fiction drama The Martian by Andy Weir! As per usual I am late to the party, as this was a bestseller and lit up many of my favourite blogs last year. At the beginning of this year my father lent me his copy so there were no more excuses not to read it.
In the year 2035, the Ares 3 mission to Mars is dramatically cut short as the crew are forced to evacuate during a furious sand storm that batters their base and threatens their Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), which is their only form of escape. Tragically Commander Lewis is forced to launch the MAV before the crew’s botanist and mechanical engineer, Mark Watney, reaches them. Mark is feared dead and Lewis can’t risk the rest of her crew however against all the odds Mark survives. Now stranded on Mars with no means of contacting Earth or the rest of his crew, Mark’s only hope is to find a way to survive until the Ares 4 missions arrives in 4 years time!
I would never wish anyone to be stranded alone like this but of all the crew Mark Watney really is the best to be. Mark was originally picked for the mission for his good nature, humour and resourcefulness. Also as a botanist he has the best chance to try to grow food and as a mechanical engineer he can fix or bodge together anything. Mark is an awesome protagonist! While the scientific workings of his mind often went over my head, I couldn’t help admiring his knowledge, skill and sheer determination. He is also hilarious which helped to lighten his dark and lonely situation.
The book is told in a diary form as Mark records mission entries everyday or every few days (or sols as they are called on Mars), depending on how busy he is. This technique helps us to have an intimate and personable relationship with Mark. Plus it helps to add tension because when you wait for several sols for an entry you fear what might have happened now! There are also a few chapters that give us a glimpse back to the rest of the crew on their long journey back to Earth, grieving the loss of Mark, and to Earth where NASA discover the shocking truth; due to a satellite coordinator spotting that equipment has been mysteriously moving on the, what should be empty, Mars base.
This is the debut novel of Andy Weir – I was even more impressed when I realised that Weir initially self-published it in 2011 before it was taken up by Crown Publishing and re-released in 2014. While I love to watch science-fiction films and TV shows, I sadly read very few science-fiction books. I must warn this is a scientifically technical and detailed book which isn’t usually for me as it goes straight over my head. There were a few moments I had to do a literary ‘smile and nod’ to what Weir was describing yet I was so gripped from page 1 that it didn’t matter at all. On top of that you just have to find out what happens to the, hilarious and highly likeable, protagonist Mark.
The Martian is a gripping and immersive science-fiction drama which had me on the edge of my seat and, surprisingly, laughing from start to finish. I am now even more excited about watching the film adaptation, starring Matt Damon. Great read.
Have you read this? Have you watched the film?