My reading rate has significantly decreased as the year comes to a close, but I’m still cranking out a few novels. I just finished The Martian by Andy Weir. Now this is definitely not a normal pick for me. I am not really into sci-fi, at all. Science is not my thing, and neither is space. But this novel piqued my interest because of the all of the accolades it has been given, not to mention the blockbuster movie that has resulted from the novel. I have not seen the movie yet, so this review is purely based on the book.
I expected to pick up this novel, read a chapter or two, then put it down to never be completed. I have plenty of those books lying around, I think most people do. But, I was wrong. I loved this novel and I couldn’t put it down.
The biggest strength in this novel is the narration. Mark Watney, the astronaut accidentally left on Mars is a terrific narrator. He tells his story through journal entries, for if he miraculously lives through the ordeal or to be found if he dies. For being left on a planet that is years away from Earth, Watney is in incredibly good spirits. He never gets depressed, cries, or gives up. He is funny and determined to find a way home.
I found Watney’s attitude inspiring. Putting myself in the same situation, I would be looking for the quickest and painless way to die immediately. But no matter what comes his way, and many things do, he logically works through it and pushes to find a way home.
I also really enjoyed the parallel story with NASA, trying to get him home. I wanted more from that story, more of the political battle that ensued. Of course these are subjects that interest me more than the science of how to grow potatoes on Mars. That is a personal preference.
Though I loved Watney’s narration, he wasn’t a completely rounded character for me. I was missing more about his life from home. We don’t know if Mark is married (guessing he isn’t), if he has kids, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a roommate? He talks of missing people and wanting his mom to know he is ok but we don’t see him missing anyone specific from home. We also don’t know much about him. He is a botanist and an astronaut but I wanted more. Why did he go into space? What is his goal? Did he always want to do this? I wish we had more of this.
But at it’s core, this novel is a sci-fi, action/adventure novel and in those categories it fits perfectly. The narration was wonderful and the pacing was great as well. I recommend this to sci-fi lovers and non sci-fi lovers alike.