Monday, January 19, 2015

A Review of The Martian, by Andy Weir

This is definitely not a book that I would typically read.  But read it I did.  I would say I was swayed by peer pressure.  Not only did Angela, at Kepler's, highly recommend it.  But a number of bloggers I follow did the same.  In fact, one blogger actually picked it as her favorite book of 2014.  So what did I think?  Were the recommenders right?  Actually, they were.  Let me give you a quick synopsys, without resorting to the Goodreads blurb.

Mark Watney is part of a 6-person U.S. crew that travels to Mars.  While they are on the surface, there is a major disturbance, necessitating a quick departure.  5 of the crew members, thinking that Mark is dead, end up leaving him behind. When Houston learns that Mark is alive, they do everything in their power to get him back to Earth - in one piece.  Does it sound kind of boring?  It wasn't.

One big plus for this book is that Mark is very funny and very snarky.  I laughed a lot, which is important in this book.  A couple of examples:

For entertainment, Mark has to watch a bunch of 70s TV shows that one of the crew members leaves behind, in their hurry to get off the planet.  In one of Mark's log entries, he says, "How come Aquaman can control whales?  They're mammals!  Makes no sense."  He does that a lot.

Another time, he says, "I can't wait to have grandchildren.  'When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater.  Uphill!  In an EVA suit!  On Mars, ya little s__t!  Ya hear me? Mars!"

There are a million of them.  At one point in my notes I wrote, "LOVE SNARKY."  And, hopefully, you can deal with foul language.  There's a ton of it.  Be forewarned.

Besides the funny stuff, there were many emotional moments.  Yes, I got teary-eyed quite a few times.  But here's something a little different - there was actually a scene in which I got chills!  It takes place in the spaceship that Mark's 5 crew mates are riding in.  That's all I'm going to say about that.

The only negative - and this may be more about me than it is a commentary on the book - is that it gets pretty technical in a lot of places.  I understand it, because the author has to give plausible explanations of how everything happens.  But I can only read a book by understanding everything that is written in it.  And since I'm not exactly a science/math whiz (a gross understatement), it means that I spent a fair amount of time struggling to comprehend things that I wasn't put on this earth to understand.  For many of you, I don't think this will be a problem.

All in all, a very good book.  There's even a part in it that I could relate to.  There is the Hab, which is the structure that the crew lives in while on Mars.  Mark mentions that the Hab keeps giving and giving, helping him stay alive.  He likens it to The Giving Tree (by Shel Silverstein).  This is the 1st children's book I ever bought, in anticipation of having my own kids.  In fact, I bought it about 2 years before my 38-year old son was born. Besides it being a great book, it will always be special to me.


  1. A friend of mine lent me this book and it's been on my nightstand forever. I've read a lot of great reviews yet haven't felt compelled to pick it up yet.

    1. I definitely get what you're saying. I can honestly say that the humor and emotional moments made it well worthwhile for me.