I first heard of The Martian in the context of the film starring Matt Damon. I didn’t realize until very recently that it was a book as well. Thank goodness for informed and well read friends because I would have hated to miss out on this one. The Martian by Andy Weir is a quick read only because once you’ve picked it up it’s impossible to put down. Normally I’d call this type of book brain candy, but this was the most well written and intelligent brain candy I’ve ever read. It’s like chocolate covered raisins, it’s got all of the deliciousness of chocolate but it’s also got fruit, so it’s healthy. Please don’t ask too many questions about my definition of healthy, I have no good answers for you.
The Martian is about an astronaut, Mark Watney, that gets left behind on Mars because his crew mates think he’s dead. He’s not, and so he has to use his botany and engineering knowledge, and a serious amount of Macgyvering to try to survive until NASA figures out he’s alive and figures out how and if they can come save him. Typically I’m a little leery of this type of book. I’m not a hugely science minded person, so lengthy descriptions of scientific theory and various outcome possibilities tend to bore me after a while. These things did exist in this book, but there was enough narrative and tension throughout that I was completely absorbed in what was happening, slightly lengthy science stuff included.
This is, of course, a pretty intense story. Almost everything Mark Wayney does is to help himself survive, and everything that NASA does directly affects Mark’s chances of survival. This type of tension is usually only tense for so long before it becomes redundant and the reader becomes numb to it. Andy Weir offsets the tension well with humor. Mark Watney is a very funny guy and most of what we’re reading is his personal journals. He’s clever and funny and honest, so instead of becoming bored with his life or death situation I found myself becoming more and more emotionally invested in the outcome of his story.
Normally I’d say that this would be a super difficult story to turn into a movie, but we live in a world in which the movie Cast Away exists so I really do believe that the movie version is probably awesome. I know I plan on seeing it. I’m just happy I got the opportunity to read the book first.