Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir



The MartianS ix days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

This was a fun novel that definitely kept me reading. Although the writing wasn’t the best, the plot was enough to make me continue.

The novel works because it is fast-paced. If it was just a bit slower, it would fall apart, so either the author has a very good sense of timing or he has a very good editor. The structure of the novel didn’t quite work for me, though. The diary form robs the story of some of the immediacy that it needs to be more of a thriller. As it is, we don’t really get any tension until the last chapter or so of the novel. The viewpoints also jump around, from first person, to third person, and it doesn’t always work. 

The protagonist, Mark Watney, is entertaining, but is not a fully realized character. Everything about him is comedic and sarcastic even during the most difficult experiences he goes through, which makes the suspense less…well, suspenseful. We don’t want a whiner to narrate the novel, but we also don’t want everything to be a joke, especially when Watney is dealing with life and death scenarios. I would have liked to see more about him and his life. We get absolutely no background. Nothing more than a quick mention of his parents.
 
The plot is interesting and there is obviously a huge amount of research that went into writing this book, so it is worth reading. Just don’t expect an life-changing reading experience.






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