The Martian

Sometimes you want to read a carefully-crafted literary masterpiece, where each sentence is like a tiny poem, where you find yourself going back to re-read passages just to enjoy the language. If that’s what you’re looking for, let me suggest that you pick up All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr or The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. But sometimes you’re sick of depressing, heavy prose and you just want to read something FUN and AWESOME that makes you stay up reading until 2:00 in the morning because you absolutely have to know what happens next. In that case, go find The Martian by Andy Weir.

Part of the fun of the story is not knowing what’s coming next, so here’s all I’ll say about the plot: Mark Watney is an American astronaut on mission to spend two months on Mars. But six days into the mission a disastrous series of events leaves him stranded on the surface. He’s alone, NASA thinks he’s dead, he has no way to communicate with Earth, and both his air and food are limited. What’s he going to do? The author prided himself on being as accurate as he could be (in a book about people on Mars, anyway) so there’s a lot of very technical discussion–not science, exactly, more like engineering–and, I’m going to be honest here, a lot of math. But it was easy to skim over the various calculations of air volume and explanations of how things work and focus on Mark himself, a resilient, resourceful smartass who you start rooting for immediately.

Andy Weir has gotten all sorts of press for the Cinderella story of this book–he initially published the book chapter-by-chapter on his website, then self-published on Amazon before getting picked up by a publisher and getting on all the best-seller lists. And the book somehow feels like a self-published serial story, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. The plot moves like a freight train, and Mark has a very clear, strong voice. I am not sure whether Weir’s going to be able to follow this one, but I had lots of fun reading The Martian more than anything I’ve read in a long time.

Kinsey’s Three Word Review: Completely un-put-downable fun.

You might also like: Space movies! Specifically, Apollo 13 and Gravity, which are both more like this book than anything else I can think of. And, in fact, The Martian is going to made into a movie starring Matt Damon, who is exactly who I would have picked to play the smart and likable main character.

Special Father’s Day Alert: Is your dad as impossible to shop for as mine? If you’re also at loose ends for a Father’s Day gift, consider The Martian! While I loved this book, it also struck me as a very Dad Book. I am aware that dads are different, but mine is getting a copy of this because it is perfect for him–science-y, funny, space-y, guy-ish, full of problems to be solved, etc. Very Dad.

4 comments on “The Martian

  1. Lisa Speckhardt says:

    I’m so glad you reviewed this, Kinsey, since it’s on my list of books to read. I’ll move it up!

  2. Rebecca says:

    I am, alas, something like #30 on my library’s wait-list for this book. It sounds excellent.
    Also, did you see the XKCD review? (I only saw it after your review, which already made me want to read it, but now even more so.)

  3. Rebecca says:

    I just finished reading this and it was unbelievably awesome! Thanks for reviewing it! It would have been terrible to miss it. And, of course, now I’m super excited about the upcoming movie!

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