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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 1 July 2015
Now The Martian is a read that everyone on Goodreads seems to be talking about and seems almost universally loved, so I had a bit of a shock three or four chapters when I found I wasn’t really liking it that much. The reason – the science - there is a lot of physics in this read and at first it seemed to go way over my head. But, I persevered and I am so glad I did, because pretty soon I was hooked and I ended up loving this read. It is a story of human endeavour against the odds, about never giving up even when the odds are totally stacked against you. I think though that the real reason I ended up loving this book was the main character, Mark Watney. What can I say about him? Well, he is funny, cheeky, irreverent, positive thinking, a doer. He is courageous and resourceful and it is his constant problem solving that really made me warm to him. Before I knew it I was rooting for him and desperately wanting him to survive. He is stuck in probably the harshest environment not yet known to man, where the slightest little accident could kill him, yet time and time again he puts his “problem solving” cap on and works out a solution. He is a very real character, one that I totally fell for and in the end it almost felt as if I was reading about a real person. Similarly, the physics, despite being way over my head at times, felt real and feasible.

It is a cracking read and now I cannot wait to see the film and from what I have seen of it from the trailer there are a few subtle differences so it should be well worth seeing.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 13 April 2015
Mark Watney is one of the astronauts on the Ares 3 mission to Mars. Unfortunately, when the Ares 3 mission leaves, Mark is left behind, presumed dead. The fact that he isn’t dead comes as a bit of shock to him at first, and then he is left pondering how, or even whether, he can survive. He knows there is another mission planned but calculating his food supplies and other equipment he doesn’t believe he can survive until the Ares 4 mission lands, and even if he does the scheduled landing site is far away; how could he even get there if he is still alive? Keeping a detailed log of his days on Mars he struggles to set up some way firstly to keep himself alive, and only then does he consider communications. Can he contact anyone? What can they do to help him, even if he gets through?

In between, Mark attempts to keep his spirits up; each of the astronauts had personal music, movies, tv series on entertainment systems, so Mark can keep himself entertained wondering why Sherrif Rosco doesn’t just go to the Duke farm and arrest the boys when they’re not in the General Lee. It’s not until we’re about 50 pages into the book that we leave Mark’s log entries temporarily, to go to Earth, where at Mission Control they are commemorating his death. From there, the book alternates between both locations.

I really liked Mark as a character; he’s clearly intelligent; a botanist and an astronaut, he has the know-how and is enough of a geek to give things a go; after all, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain if he can find ways to survive. He has an irreverent sense of humour and this comes across in his log entries. Having never been stranded on Mars, I have no idea how it may impact on a person’s mindset; but I felt that the log entries Mark creates are indicative of a man who is a survivalist, but has a touch of pragmatism in him as well. I don’t really know why some reviewers have complained about the bad language in the book; there really wasn’t very much so that it became an issue, and I think I’d swear if I was stranded on a planet that was doing its darnedest to kill me too. It seems to me that some reviewers have not taken into account the mental, emotional and physical strain that we have to imagine the character undergoing in this situation, coupled with his sheer will to survive and prove the odds wrong.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book; following Mark’s log entries explaining his thinking through solutions to his problems. I think these log entries were partly a way for Mark to ‘think out loud’ as he worked through each issue and as such they give us a really good view into his mindset. I found myself cheering with each triumph, and feeling crushed with each blow. The incident with the airlock some way into the book nearly made me weep with frustration. A great book; I can’t wait for more books by this clearly talented author who has written what I found to be an intelligent and thought-provoking sci-fi novel.
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on 5 February 2013
NASA has set up a chain of expeditions to Mars but very soon after landing the third one is aborted and the scientists have to leave. Unknown to them their dead companion, who is not actually dead, finds himself stranded on Mars with little hope of surviving until the next scheduled mission. Air and water are not the problem but he does not have enough food despite being left with the resources to accommodate six explorers.

Right from the start this is a gripping page-turner and no matter how hard Mark Watney strives to survive Mars works just as hard to kill him. All the time I was willing him to succeed only to have yet another believable crisis threatening his continued existence. In my opinion you will not find a better thriller set on Mars or elsewhere. I had not previously heard of the author and cannot remember how I ended up buying his book to read on my Ipad, but it was a good day. Highly recommended, excellent value for money, and I look forward to reading other work from Weir.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 13 April 2015
Mark Watney is one of the astronauts on the Ares 3 mission to Mars. Unfortunately, when the Ares 3 mission leaves, Mark is left behind, presumed dead. The fact that he isn’t dead comes as a bit of shock to him at first, and then he is left pondering how, or even whether, he can survive. He knows there is another mission planned but calculating his food supplies and other equipment he doesn’t believe he can survive until the Ares 4 mission lands, and even if he does the scheduled landing site is far away; how could he even get there if he is still alive? Keeping a detailed log of his days on Mars he struggles to set up some way firstly to keep himself alive, and only then does he consider communications. Can he contact anyone? What can they do to help him, even if he gets through?

In between, Mark attempts to keep his spirits up; each of the astronauts had personal music, movies, tv series on entertainment systems, so Mark can keep himself entertained wondering why Sherrif Rosco doesn’t just go to the Duke farm and arrest the boys when they’re not in the General Lee. It’s not until we’re about 50 pages into the book that we leave Mark’s log entries temporarily, to go to Earth, where at Mission Control they are commemorating his death. From there, the book alternates between both locations.

I really liked Mark as a character; he’s clearly intelligent; a botanist and an astronaut, he has the know-how and is enough of a geek to give things a go; after all, he has nothing to lose and everything to gain if he can find ways to survive. He has an irreverent sense of humour and this comes across in his log entries. Having never been stranded on Mars, I have no idea how it may impact on a person’s mindset; but I felt that the log entries Mark creates are indicative of a man who is a survivalist, but has a touch of pragmatism in him as well. I don’t really know why some reviewers have complained about the bad language in the book; there really wasn’t very much so that it became an issue, and I think I’d swear if I was stranded on a planet that was doing its darnedest to kill me too. It seems to me that some reviewers have not taken into account the mental, emotional and physical strain that we have to imagine the character undergoing in this situation, coupled with his sheer will to survive and prove the odds wrong.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book; following Mark’s log entries explaining his thinking through solutions to his problems. I think these log entries were partly a way for Mark to ‘think out loud’ as he worked through each issue and as such they give us a really good view into his mindset. I found myself cheering with each triumph, and feeling crushed with each blow. The incident with the airlock some way into the book nearly made me weep with frustration. A great book; I can’t wait for more books by this clearly talented author who has written what I found to be an intelligent and thought-provoking sci-fi novel.
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on 19 October 2015
This is a good book. Not a great book, but I did enjoy reading it...

While the whole story is entertaining (Will he make it or not?), it's based on a succession of repeatable events :

- Something breaks down.
- He has to fix or die.
- He fixes it.
- Something breaks down...

While this is enjoyable at first that repeatable storytelling gets boring after a while...

Another weakness is the character development... It's non-existent... The characters at the beginning of the book are exactly the same in the middle of the book, and the same at the end of the book.
And while we get a lot of hard science in this book, the psychological aspect is totally forgotten...
Best we get is :
- Something broke. I'm gonna die. Booh !
- I've fixed it. Yeah !
(repeat)

The story is mostly told in a log format. We don't live the events directly, but through the logs of Mark. And it works...
Except for the part when we go back to the third-person with scenes on Earth and on the Hermes. Specially that the book would have been even better without knowing what's happening on Earth.

The ending felt rushed. While we got plenty of details for all the repairs and fixes at the beginning of the book, those disappears as we progress
in the story, and doesn't even exists for the "finale". Not sure if the writer himself got bored writing it, or if it was a poor attempt at changing the rhythm, but it makes the ending happened so fast that it feels almost non-existent compared to the rest of the book.

The ending isn't that great either. I would have like an epilogue to complete it. And just felt like an abrupt end. Again probably due the rhythm problem...

So, overall. Still a good book. I did enjoy it, and it is a page turner (Will he make it or not?). But don't expect it to be a great book. And certainly not a master piece like some are saying...
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on 18 April 2013
This novel has a great premise, which is in many ways it greatest strength. Weir is great at delivering technical information in his writing style, and a great part of the text is quite technical. But it's succinct, and is never bogged down with advanced vocabulary. However, if you are not looking for a story that talks a lot about the technicalities and issues of space travel and inter-planetary exploration, this book is not for you.
The story itself is good, switching between the main characters life on mars, and the events of those back on earth adds a refreshing change of pace at key points which keeps the reader engaged. Do not expect a deeply philosophical approach to difficulties faced by a lone human on a barren world, you wont be getting it. Life alone on Mars is described by Mark Watney, a likable and quick witted botanist, who likes to keep things simple, and humorous.
All in all, this book will interest the sci-fi fan, and will appeal to the casual reader, such as myself, looking for a new and refreshing story.
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on 9 March 2014
Disco hating astronaut Mark Watney faces almost certain death after he is stranded on Mars when a freak accident separates him from his crew mates during a near future manned expedition to the red planet. This is the premise of Andy Weir's novel and it is quite an original and unusual read. It is absolutely loaded with science, sometimes at the expense of forward momentum within the story but on the whole this works well as there isn't actually anything else going on. Watney is an enormously resourceful and wilful human being, fighting for his life in a hugely hostile environment and the thing he has on his side is scientific knowledge and the ability to think his way round a problem. The first person narrative is dry as a bone and all the better for it. Watney is funny, believable and a recognisably credible geek scientist. I think we can expect a film adaptation of this one before too long.
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on 2 November 2014
A quick review...
Thought the concept of the book was good, but let down by the execution.
Watney is quite an irritating character, speaking like a neck bearded, smart arse nerd. I don't work at NASA's HR dept, but i would seriously doubt they would send someone so sarcastic up in space to spend months in a space craft with other sarcastic smart arses.
His character does not change over the extended period he spends alone on Mars. Surely we should've seen some slow decline into either depression or insanity, not cracking jokes about making love to a martian queen 5 minutes after he's nearly died in a crash.
On a positive note, you can tell the book would've been thoroughly researched, and seems believable.
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I am not into science fiction but after hearing so much positive feedback on this novel I decided to buy.

What a treat. I loved it and didn't want the book to end. Its a story about an astronaut left on Mars and his bid to live long enough to get off. There is loads of technical stuff in the book but so well explained and the prose is excellent. I followed through with the ideas and the equipment used and never got lost, as I do in other Sci-Fi books I have read.

Its funny in places and I love the initial contacts between Earth and Mars and found myself laughing out loud on the train several times.

For me its a great read and I have not stopped recommending it to friends and strangers. It is that good!
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on 1 November 2015
As a retired professional engineer, also a life-long fan of the great Arthur C Clarke, I was looking forward to this book and the film. I saw the latter a week ago, in 3D, and thought it was by far the best SF film I have seen since 2001: A Space Odyssey. There were a few technical goofs that were annoying, but it's a piece of thrilling fiction and you have to suspend belief. It was well-paced, although still a bit overlong.

Before discussing the book, I should mention that I am often irritated when I read technical detail from an author who has little understanding of science or who hasn't done his homework. I remember throwing a Clive Cussler novel out of the window some time ago - and Lee Child also makes a few howlers.

So I decided to read the Andy Weir book and, so far, have been pretty disappointed. The vast amount of technical detail, often fiercely numerical, is absurd - this is supposed to be a work of entertainment, for goodness sake! I felt that the book should really be a novella, with the brain numbingly boring technical detail removed to allow the story to flow smoothly. Although I'm an engineer, I read a book like this to be gripped by the story, not to agree with the author on the partial pressures of gases or the laws of thermodynamics etc. Even with all that technical burden, Weir makes a number of scientific goofs. Mature authors, like Clarke, would have put in enough (very accrurate) technical detail to enhance the story and give it authenticity but not overload it with tedious redundant technical padding.

The human side of the book, the characterisation and relationships, is weak and most of the characters, apart from the main protagonist, are two dimensional - little more than names on the page. Several reviewers have mentioned the humour. Well, it's there but I wouldn't read the book just for laughs.

So it was great that such a well-conceived film could be made from this book, but I wouldn't recommend the book unless you enjoy wading through a morass of unnecessary technical detail. On the other hand, the film is very watchable and the technical content was just about right for me.
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