Thursday, 20 March 2014

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Publisher: Del Rey
Format: Hardcover / eBook
Released: February 13th, 2014
Rating: 9.5/10

Amazon summary:

I'm stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Earth. I'm in a Habitat designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I'll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I'll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I'll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I'll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I'm screwed. 


Wow wow WOW! This book. This book basically took over my life for three days and I couldn't bear the time when I wasn't  reading it. Mark Watney got inside my head and under my skin like no other sci-fi hero has, and it's taken me a couple of weeks to collect my thoughts and write this review. There's so much I want to say but I must avoid spoilers because, trust me, you need to read this book without knowing anything. All you need to know is that Mark Watney is stranded on Mars all by himself, and he has to survive. Impossible? You may think so, but is there a sliver of hope? You'll have to read it to find out!

Considering Mark is stranded on Mars, by himself, with a very limited supply of food and other life-saving amenities, his sense of humour does not suffer. Not one bit. Instead he's funny, sarcastic and self-deprecating, while maintaining a sense of calm and rationale that's nothing short of alien to me. In his position I would be flailing, crying, cursing the world and everyone in it and most probably giving up. I know this for a fact. But not Mark. No, Mark never gives up and continuously tries to find ways to prolong his survival. He's one of the strongest characters I've ever had the pleasure of reading about - mentally and physically - and I think he deserves to go down in literary history. That's how much of an effect he had on me!

Initially I worried that The Martian would be way out of my comfort zone. I don't read much adult sci-fi (I'm working on changing that, slowly) and I thought that any science talk would completely addle my brain. There's a heavy dose of scientific stuff going on, with lots of terminology (Sols? Habs? Err... what?), but once I got used to it and understood what it meant, reading it became second nature. It doesn't slow the fast-paced plot down at all; nothing is superfluous and everything is important. We're seeing all this through Mark's eyes, and to him the smallest thing can decide whether he lives or dies. It's a truly frightening situation to be in, and author Andy Weir does a spectacular job of creating edge-of-your-seat tension. I was on tenterhooks for about half of the book, and that's not an exaggeration!

The Martian is an exceptional novel, written with a style that's both addictive and compelling. I never once wanted to put it down; only necessity forced me to abandon ship (ha ha) and go to work, eagerly awaiting the moment when I could get back to Mars, Mark Watney and the Rovers. I haven't loved a book like this for a long time, especially not an adult novel set in space. It's not my usual read at all, but positive word of mouth forced me to acquire a copy and I'll always be grateful to those people who talked it up. The Martian and Mark Watney need to be read to be believed, and trust me when I say you should read this book. I'm already clamouring for a re-read, which again is unusual for me due to the sheer amount of books I have to read. It takes a special book like The Martian to make me want to experience it all over again, and I suppose that's the highest accolade I can give it.

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