By Andy Weir
Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book to review. As is my policy with books that I receive for review, if I don’t like it, I don’t review it.
At it’s very core, The Martian is about an astronaut that gets accidentally left behind on the surface of Mars. He’s injured in an accident as he and the rest of the astronauts are evacuating the planet due to an extreme wind storm. The injury causes the rest of his team to believe he is dead, and they are unable to find his body due to the wind and dust, and continue with the evacuation before they are unable to.
He wakes up, with a dead biomonitor, part of a communications antenna sticking through a hole in his suit, and no way to get off of the planet. The rest of the book is about how he battles his new situation, and finds ways to extend his life expectancy.
When I started the book, I was expecting that to be the story. And it was. However, there was much more to it than that. Almost the entire book is written in a form of narrative first person through Mark Watney’s (he’s the astronaut) log files. He’s creating the log files as a way to log the things he’s done so that if anyone from NASA ever recovers his body and the equipment, they’ll know that he was alive, and the things that he did.
Through Watney’s personal log, and the personality that he shows through his words, the story becomes so much more than just an account of an astronaut trapped on Mars. The character of Watney is written so well, that the reader finds themselves sucked into the very human story, and the situation that he finds himself in. Watney shares, in his logs, the struggles that he has, the victories, and even the frustrations he has with his fellow astronauts selection of music and television shows.
It’s a bit difficult to critique the actual writing of the book, as it’s meant to be read as log entries, so the flow can be somewhat erratic. However, Weir delivers in a big way with the style of the book. I was immediately sucked into the story, and ended up finishing the book in a marathon reading session that left me with way too little sleep the next day. The last half of the book is quickly paced, and very hard to put down.
The Martian is an excellent book, and I’d highly recommend it if you’re any kind of sci-fi reader at all.