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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick, Interesting read
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...
Published 22 months ago by Amazon Customer

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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Science, but the Form Fails
This is very much Apollo 13 but on Mars. An astronaut tries to solve problems using limited materials while NASA people fret back on Earth. The science is well researched and the solutions to problems are inventive. It's a great idea and the ending is very exciting. However, there are big problems with the writing, mostly connected to it being written in first person...
Published 10 months ago by Kublai


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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick, Interesting read, 18 April 2013
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
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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123 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get out of that without moving, 5 Feb. 2013
By 
William J. Fox "KillerBill" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, 4 Sept. 2014
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Martian (Paperback)
So, at last I have actually read this book that has received some major hype since publication – and I must admit that I did enjoy the read. Some of the comments and reviews from the Press and other publications have been perhaps a bit too OTT. Larry Niven’s comment about this being like Robinson Crusoe but written by someone brighter, all I can say to that is Larry please actually read and understand Robinson Crusoe.

As a roller coaster ride of pure escapism and action this book does fulfil, but methinks this was written with a film in mind. There are many reasons for this as the style is pretty visual, and the characterisation is not fully developed, only the amount you would expect for an action movie. Being male of course when I was little I wanted to be an astronaut, like most boys, but there has to be something different about people who actually do the job, after all they have to take off with a lot of rocket fuel just below their backsides, which I suppose makes them to a degree into adrenalin junkies. I have nothing against astronauts, and not only do they have to be brave, very clever and intelligent, there are loads of other attributes that they must possess, and in this story you do wonder how Mark Watney managed to complete the training. I liked the man as I read this, but there are quite a few times when you wonder if he is a bit simple. For someone alone, stranded on Mars you do have to wonder what would go through your mind. Obviously there is the aim to stay alive, but you would also have a lot of negative thoughts, and contemplate on life and its meaning. For us reading this though, Watney never really has this depth of character, making him seem only partly real.

Reading this I thought of the film ‘Speed’ which I love, but I remember when I first saw it at the cinema and when new events cropped up everyone would groan, and then laugh, so although things keep going wrong and Watney has to come up with solutions, sometimes by himself, other times with the help of NASA you don’t actually get bored, instead you end up thinking of what can possibly happen next. Andy Weir has obviously thought of Michael Crichton when writing this, as with both authors, if something can go wrong it will, it is usually down to people to put right the mechanical and computer failures.

Where this lifts itself above other such books is that there is always a certain strain of humour running through this, and the author throws in some good satire, what with the politics within such organisations as NASA which rely on government support, and the Chinese space agency deciding whether they can help or whether everything should remain secret and they should ignore what is happening. Also it is amusing to see NASA going from solutions with all the safety factors in place, to things that are a bit more ad hoc. Certain elements such as this do make this a lot better than other books. Like the majority of people reading this I haven’t really thought about the chemical and mathematical equations and if they are correct, but I suspect at least one person has sat down with pen and paper and checked these as they were reading this, and it would be interesting to see whether the author is correct.

As for a more deeper element to this novel there isn’t really one until the last few pages when we are made to think of all the people and all the organisations that help to try and save Watney, and how people help and risk themselves all the time with such things as looking for those stranded whilst hiking, or saving people from the sea. In all then although not the best written book, this is full of action and is good escapism. Does Mark Watney survive? You will have to read the book to find out.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Science, but the Form Fails, 11 April 2014
This review is from: The Martian (Hardcover)
This is very much Apollo 13 but on Mars. An astronaut tries to solve problems using limited materials while NASA people fret back on Earth. The science is well researched and the solutions to problems are inventive. It's a great idea and the ending is very exciting. However, there are big problems with the writing, mostly connected to it being written in first person narrative.

Loads of writers seem to opt for first person these days - because it means they can talk in everyday spoken English, use a limited range of vocabulary and have a very limited scope on events. Compared to third person writing it often seems easy. However if you use first person well, you still have to have skill, and too many of these writers don't. There are rules. If the character is talking directly to the reader then he's got to have a plausible reason for doing so and it has to be stylistically believable.

In The Martian Andy Weir has the astronaut talking to us via his mission log that has been typed into the computer. Yet from beginning to end the character talks with spoken English and no sign of professional language for a formal NASA document. This is a record, yet the astronaut is continuously having to explain basic details for non-experts (us readers) that any NASA guy would have known without thinking. It never reads like a mission log - just like a bloke talking to you. The whole storytelling style fails to be believable.

The characterisation is also very poor. The Astronaut is on Mars for about two years yet his writing is unchanged from start to finish - always the same bloke down the pub, jokey style, no development or deterioration. There is nothing to make us care about him really - no experience of the isolation, only science facts which often get boring and tedious. Also, many of the plot points you can see a mile off and they happen right on cue to make it difficult for him to make his journey across Mars.

It's a good idea for a story, but the execution doesn't work and as a novel it's poor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars commendable imaginative feat that it was able to convincingly sustain my attention on a world of imagined space junk, 16 Mar. 2014
This review is from: The Martian (Hardcover)
Andy Weir (2014) The Martian

During a storm on Mars a NASA expedition has to make an emergency evacuation. During the escape one of the astronauts, Mark Watney, has an accident and is thought to have died and so is abandoned by his crew. This novel tells the story of Mark Watney's attempt to survive and aid his own rescue and of NASA's attempt to reach and recover him. The story is told in the form of Mark Watney's log entries and third person narratives from the NASA end. This is a lot like the story of Apollo 13 but with much greater distance involved and all the problems that that entails.

This is science fiction set in a near future that is characterized by convincing `realism' rather than flights of the fantastical. Much of the imaginative realm of the novel is focused on the logistical and technological challenges of both surviving and affecting the rescue. Watney himself is a down-to-earth character (a down-to-earth character stuck on Mars!) who is not prone to philosophical musings, psychological anxieties, or lyrical reflections on the aesthetics of the Martian environment - rather he stays doggedly problem focused and task orientated leavening his log reports with laconic humour. Likewise NASA has the same foci leavened with a bit of politics. Both narratives are convincingly told if you can maintain concentration on all the problem scenarios, logical solutions and imagined technology.

Although the focus in this novel on matter-of-fact externalities rather than the internal experiences of the protagonists is not generally my thing I nonetheless enjoyed this and consider it a commendable imaginative feat that it was able to convincingly sustain my attention on a world of imagined space junk. I also quite liked the characterization, so distant from my own personality, of these psychologically pragmatic people facing terrifying odds with a can-do attitude of `working the problem' both individually and as a team in a logical, innovative and creative manner. I found this quite inspiring and strangely therapeutic.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tense and thrilling, snide and sarcastic - Mark Watney is science geek heaven (and my new crush), 18 Oct. 2014
By 
K. J. Noyes "Katy Noyes" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
What a find! Occasionally Richard and Judy surprise me with an unusual choice that turns out to be a piece of undiscovered gold.

Who would have though that a story billed as 'Castaway meets Apollo 13' would have nearly made me late for work?! But science won me over, science and space thrills.

It's simple enough to convey: a team working on Mars is surprised by a dust storm. One of the team is lost with a hole in his suit, the others told to evacuate. Leaving him behind, he wakes up later to discover his situation. His team think him dead, NASA think he's dead. He's on his own.

Absolutely HOOKED. And I'm not ashamed to say that I have a huge crush on botanist/engineer Mark Watney. Huge. He narrates the story as journal entries from Mars, as problem after problem must be overcome - his suit, water, heat, food just for starters. Each time his sense of humour only heightens the tension as you see just how terrifying it must be there for him to make light of it later.

It's a book with a LOT of science in it. I won't pretend to understand more than 1 in 10 of Mark's explanations and solutions, but it doesn't matter. The overall terror, the human story, the excitement mean you can follow Mark's progress without having to catch all the terminology.

It does feel well-researched though. You do feel you can picture Mars: the cold, the barren landscape, the loneliness.

Mark's story changes from Castaway's one-man-trial partway through to more Apollo 13 as the NASA side of the tale begins to filter in and awareness of his 'alive' status arises. Earth's reaction is well detailed. NASA's plans and frantic meetings feel real, the desperation to save this lone man and the millions poured into it touching.

And yet Mark keeps his irreverent sense of humour as he reaches ever closer to a lonely death.... Just how will it end?

I was on the edge of the bed desperately turning pages to get there. I loved the writing, the back-and-forth Mars-to-Earth narration. I loved Mark's cobbled-together and insane plans. I loved the tension and space talk (even if I didn't follow it all). You do not have to be a techie to enjoy this.

I've already got a few library customers to order this. They better stay away from Mark though :)

Looking out for the author's next book. Excellent way to get noticed, Mr Weir.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really entertaining space survival story, 20 Aug. 2014
By 
Baz (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
I'm not a big fiction fan, particularly science fiction. Most of my reading is non-fiction, with a few novels here and there. However, I came across "The Martian" and was immediately intrigued, reading the first chapter or two there and then. It's an excellent story.

To set the scene: in the near future NASA has established the Ares Program to send astronauts to Mars. Mark Watney, the titular Martian, is the lowest-ranking member of the third mission. A few days after his Ares 3 crew lands on Mars, they are forced to abandon their mission. Unfortunately, Mark is seriously injured on the way to the escape vehicle and is left behind, the rest of his crew and NASA back home believing he's dead. He has no means of communicating with Earth. He has no means of getting off the planet. His supplies of food and water will last almost a year; the next Ares mission is due to reach Mars in 4 years time. And so his battle to survive begins.

Andy Weir has done a great job of making Watney someone the reader really cares about. Watney comes across as the kind of person you'd want to have around in a crisis. Not just for his technical abilities and inventive improvisational skills, but his upbeat nature and sense of humour. You find yourself really caring about him and willing him to succeed, despite knowing little of his back story. Despite his vast knowledge of chemistry, physics, engineering and botany he never seems like a know-it-all, possibly because of his many setbacks and near death experiences. I was crying with laughter at some points as he recounts his his day to day survival in log entries.

I really hope that "The Martian" gets picked up by a studio and filmed. And I really hope Andy Weir writes another book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Mars technology saves a geek, 23 Dec. 2014
This review is from: The Martian (Paperback)
If you can stick the chirpy style beyond the first couple of pages, its an OK read for scifi people. Its supposed to be a sort of journal, but right from the start this pretence is not maintained, though when you think of how else to write it, it becomes obvious that it's the only way. The guy is a total geek, so you won't get any story atmosphere like say a description of a Mars sunset - at one stage he says a view is 'beautiful', and you perk up, but that's it!
The technology of Mars expeditions is interesting, though towards the end you don't bother to follow the tedious detail of fiddling with the habitat for survival, in fact you wonder at the guy's persistence with this, and at the effort going into saving one man's life when...... But some kind woman tech tells the media that they will learn a lot from it all.
I worried about him for a whole chapter when he (a botanist) says that raw potatoes taste disgusting. They are of course poisonous, but further on he cooks them all so I relaxed. And I wondered if the 'thin' Martian atmosphere could be so destructive at a mere 175 km/hr? A few doubtful scenarios like that - the hydrogen behaves strangely too with a flame around - but generally an interesting Martian survival saga.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stranded, 10 Mar. 2014
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Martian (Hardcover)
Astronaut is left, assumed dead, on the surface of Mars. Except he’s not. And now he is stranded.

So this is a tale of survival on Mars with our unlucky astronaut trying to find a way to survive until the next manned probe lands. It is a tale of invention, ingenuity and a tiny bit of science. But it is also a tale told with self-depreciating humour and the science is generally told in a way that doesn’t make your brain hurt.

Having said that, just as I was thinking it would be a long book of just survival and ingenuity, we start to get the aspect from Earth as they realise a man has been left behind and the full horror of the situation becomes apparent.

It is a clever and original novel. I will admit that there were bits of the science that went slightly over my head, but potential readers should not be put off my either my ignorance or fear of a science packed book. This is about the will to survive and the skills and mental attitude that are required if you happen to be stuck on Mars. It should almost be required reading for teenagers to not only entertain them, but teach them the value of science.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mars a day stops your work, rest and play, 15 Oct. 2014
By 
Crookedmouth ":-/" (Somewhere in the Jurassic...) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
Mark Watney* has a problem. Quite a big problem. He's stranded on the planet Mars (it's a long story) with a year's worth of supplies. No one on Earth knows he's alive and the planned return mission won't land for another five years. What's a guy to do? Well, most of his survival tactics seem to involve setting fire to his habitat...

Andy Weir self-published The Martian in 2012 and if there's any proof needed that self-published novels CAN be good, then this - emphatically - is it. The self-published ebook sold like hotcakes before it was picked up by a print publisher the following year and it's now in development as a big-name movie.

The story is good, solid, hard science fiction, a cross between any castaway story you care to name and any astronaut-in-peril story you care to name. There's a healthy dash of techno-thriller in the mix with plenty of MacGyveresque science to keep the nerds happy. To be honest, some of the technical descriptions left me standing but it's easy enough to step around these points and get on with the story.

The writing is strong, competent and easy to read. However, the delivery swaps between First Person (Watney's Mars Survival Journal) and Third (events back on earth. This jarred to begin with in more ways than one. In particular, Watney's personal account helps to build a strong and sympathetic character portrait, whereas the characters covered in the other sections seem to lack any real oomph, faceless bodies for the most part, whose only role is to move the plot forward. As the story moves forward this becomes less of a problem, but it never quite goes away and the book suffers for it.

But what the hell?! The plot is a real corker! While it's nothing new (stranded, struggle to survive, race against time), follows a very klinear and predictable course and the eventual outcome is hardly beyond doubt, Weir somehow manages to weave a classically unputdownable story that easily transcends the narrative problems and literary cliches. I loved it. It's been a long time since I've read deep into the night but, having started reading one evening in bed, I eventually had to force myself to go to bed at 2:30 the following morning and then squeeze in a couple more chapters before truddging - gritty-eyed - to work a few hours later**. Every other chapter seems to be a cliffhanger and the lead character is so engaging (and witty) that you're dragged (willingly) from page to page.

In spite of its flaws, this is an enjoyable and hugely impressive debut.

* "Mark Watney" is no name for an astronaut. "Buzz", "Buck" or "Jim" perhaps, but "Mark Watney"? It makes the poor guy sound like the third-in-line heir to a failed brewing empire...

** Hence the review's title
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