The Martian, by Andy Weir
Published by Del Rey, 27th August 2015 (first published 27th September 2012)
Genres: Science fiction, adventure, space
Source: Purchased, second-hand
Mark Watney, an astronaut part of a six-man mission to Mars, becomes separated from his team during an emergency evacuation of the planet. The crew believe he is dead and leave him behind. But he survived and is now stranded on Mars!
With dwindling supplies and the prospect of starving to death in space before anyone could reach him, Mark must use all of his knowledge and ingenuity to try to change his fate.
I saw the movie adaptation a few years ago and really loved it but, as usual, I have to say that I loved the book more.
First of all, the writing style was just brilliant. I love any book that is written in the form of letters or in some way different from just regular narrative. This hit the nail on the head with a combination of both! Mark’s logs from Mars are written verbatim as if he were speaking them directly to us. Interspersed with the logs are emails between different characters. The passages on Earth are told in regular narrative text and I loved the juxtaposition.
Secondly, this is such a funny book! Obviously, this being set in space, there is a lot of technical and “sciencey” stuff. But it is alleviated by Mark’s brilliant sense of humour, undimmed by the many obstacles he faces.
“Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.””
“After I board Ares 4, before talking to NASA, I will take control of a craft in international waters without permission. That makes me a pirate! A space pirate!”
“Problem is (follow me closely here, the science is pretty complicated), if I cut a hole in the Hab, the air won’t stay inside anymore.”
And thirdly, as much as I loved the film, I enjoyed the book more. Certain situations and events are left out of the film, which I think really make the book. I won’t give any spoilers here, you will just have to take my word for it.
I cannot encourage you enough to read this book. It was a wonderful surprise and is definitely one of my favourite reads of the year (I know I’m posting this in January 2021, but I read this at the end of last year).
My rating: 5/5