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Book Review: "The Martian" by Andy Weir

Updated on January 26, 2018

So there’s this really popular book released a few years back. It’s a sciency little book that the whole world loved and was turned into a blockbuster film featuring Matt Damon. It’s a book called The Martian by Andy Weir. You probably heard of it, along with the rest of the world. And like the rest of the world, I decided to give it a read.

So what is it about? It follows Mark Watney, one of many astronauts on Mars doing all the science stuff they need to do before going back home. But surprise! A big storm hits them and they must leave. There’s only one problem, Mark is mistaken for dead when debri rips his space suit and they have leave without him. By the world’s freakiest luck Mark survives and must find a way to stay alive on Mars until the next Mars mission comes so he can hitch a ride with them. Least to say, he needs to do some serious innovation, and start, “Sciencing the shit” out of everything to make it. So it’s a rather good thing he’s an engineer and botanist because that knowledge comes in handy.

The good? This story has a good sense of wit about it. In the loneliness that Mark is facing on Mars, he does not face insanity or any heavy thoughts of suicide. Instead, his mind strays to the dumbest things of “Why can aqua man can talk to whales?” and “How are the cubs doing?” I thought that was great, because everyone’s mind does that and not only did it bring a chuckle, it made him so likable. His point of view reflected the same wit as well. Also the science is fairly spot on. Mostly. Storms are not really strong enough to throw debri big because there is too thin of an atmosphere but hey, I forgive it because he had to get stuck on the planet somehow.

The bad? The book is not the most exciting, moves at snail’s pace and was frankly hard to finish, which is strange for me. I’ve read many novels similar and was fascinated by the science. But here I was just annoyed by it. I think it tended to lecture the readers about science oppose to explaining it organically in the story and I think it added to much of the dullness in. The tale itself was not exciting either. As likable as Watney is, I got tired of reading about him stuck on that rock doing chores. There was segments of the story where people sat around at NASA and talked about what to do and somehow that just seemed so much more exciting to me. Also the ending struck me as odd. I wanted to see Watney return home, reunite with friends, adjust to Earth life, but the story cuts off randomly. It feel like a chapter as missing. It wasn’t bad. It was just weird.

Overall, it’s not a bad book, or a great book. It is just a very over-hyped book. There’s lot to like here but it’s slow and of many times feels like a chemistry lecture more than a novel. So I don’t think its for everybody. It’s a very average book at best. If you like what you read here, you know if you’ll like this or not. For the rest of us, it's either a skip or clearance item worth checking out.

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