The Martian: Book Review


I’m pretty much fucked.
That’s my considered opinion.
Six days into what should be the greatest two months of my life, and it’s turned into a nightmare.
I don’t even know who’ll read this. I guess someone will find it eventually. Maybe a hundred years from now.
For the record . . . I didn’t die on Sol 6. Certainly the rest of the crew thought I did, and I can’t blame them. Maybe there’ll be a day of national mourning for me, and my Wikipedia page will say, “Mark Watney is the only human being to have died on Mars.”
And it’ll be right, probably. ’Cause I’ll surely die here. Just not on Sol 6 when everyone thinks I did.
Let’s see . . . where do I begin?
The Ares Program. Mankind reaching out to Mars to send people to another planet for the very first time and expand the horizons of humanity blah, blah, blah. The Ares 1 crew did their thing and came back heroes. They got the parades and fame and love of the world.
Ares 2 did the same thing, in a different location on Mars. They got a firm handshake and a hot cup of coffee when they got home.
Ares 3. Well, that was my mission. Okay, not mine per se. Commander Lewis was in charge. I was just one of her crew. Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” of the mission if I were the only remaining person.
What do you know? I’m in command.

If someone told me to pick up a book about the science of surviving on Mars, I’d probably consider it a reference non-fiction book.  However, that’s pretty much what the fiction book ‘The Martian’ offers.

Mark Watney is stranded on Mars when a freak accident convinces his team that he’s dead.  They head back to earth, leaving him to survive for as long as his food supplies will last.  What follows is a juxtaposition between the science of survival in such a hostile environment and his witty personality.

I’m sure hard science mixed with sarcastic humour isn’t for everyone, but it turned into a real page turner for me.

Mark is an astronaut who is a trained biologist and engineer.  His journal entries cover solving various problems, surviving disasters, and working on getting home.  Each entry glorifies science, which I hope would call out to the nerds out there, and is tempered by Mark’s dark wit.

“The screen went black before I was out of the airlock. Turns out the “L” in “LCD” stands for “Liquid.” I guess it either froze or boiled off. Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”

It’s that nerdy science feel that makes the story feel so authentic, but it’s pretty accessible stuff.  There are no aliens, no Michael Bay-splosions, just the practical application of knowledge that can save a life.  Albeit if you’re stuck alone on Mars.

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