5 out of 5 stars
This novel’s premise is great! It’s Hollywood blockbuster worthy… and it probably will become one. You need to read it before it is turned into “Apollo 13 meets Cast Away” as the book is advertised.
So, the premise: This is the story of Mark Watney who is stuck on Mars. His crew left without him because they thought him dead. And now he has to do everything he can to survive and maybe somehow get off the planet.
Every time I write a review the first thing I do is go through all the notes I have been taking while reading. These contain notes I made in the physical copy or on my kindle and the updates on my Goodreads profile. Going through these notes recreates the reading experience and I can see how my opinion changed while moving forward.
Going through the notes I made on my kindle while reading “The Martian” I had a great laugh. My first notes are all along the line of “since we have the protagonists logs we can assume he survived – what a stupid way of telling the story”. Who would’ve thought I’d rate the book with 5 stars later on? But once I got into it and really started to like the protagonist and the claustrophobic feel of the narrative something else happened. The author changed the point of view! I thought this was going to be a survivor’s diary. But no! It turned into a thriller about trying to save the protagonist. And even though I was annoyed at the shift because I liked being alone on Mars with Watney (the protagonist) I came around quite quickly. Every shift in the novel’s narrative style or point of view has its reason and it is necessary to keep up the suspense. And it really works!
After I got used to that narrative to and fro and I kind of got a feel for the kind of book I was reading I couldn’t put it down. Or rather, when I was forced to put it down – by ridiculous things like work and social gatherings – I was fidgeting to pick it up. I was worried about Watney and his survival. And the other characters! Yes, plural! Weir does not dwell on endless characterization. He just throws them at you and – magically – they become personalities with a voice of their own. He manages to create characters in just a few sentences. I loved that. And because Weir is so good at this the novel can be a plot-driven novel and still have a great and diverse set of characters. In the end I was so caught up in the story that I even shed a few tears during the final scene – I am not going to tell you what kind of tears they were, of course!
I am just going to say: read this book! Because even though I am not going to claim I understood all the technical blah blah Weir comes up with (he DOES explain things very well, however!) it is an interesting and suspense-filled read. And you get to learn a bit about space travel, chemistry, and botany on the way. And if you’re anything like me you will love Watney’s sarcasm and attitude in the face of utter hopelessness.