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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is handy being handy in space.
That happy part of a successful space mission where you pack up all your stuff and salute Mars as it recedes in your rear vision mirror sadly doesn't eventuate for spaceman Mark Watney in THE MARTIAN. An incident during the latter stages of his crew's mission sparks a hasty exodus for everyone else and a long cold solo stay on Mars for the mission's botanist and engineer...
Published 3 months ago by A. J Thompson

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mars - a Survivalist Handbook
Very enjoyable read and an interesting premise. Persevere beyond the GCSE maths fest that constitutes the first section because fortunately the rest of the book moves on to an actual plot rather than a series of equations. Did feel in retrospect that we don't actually get to know much about our hero beyond his problem solving skills - think most humans in such a situation...
Published 4 months ago by G. Morgan


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is handy being handy in space., 27 May 2014
By 
A. J Thompson "voyagersaus" (Western Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian (Hardcover)
That happy part of a successful space mission where you pack up all your stuff and salute Mars as it recedes in your rear vision mirror sadly doesn't eventuate for spaceman Mark Watney in THE MARTIAN. An incident during the latter stages of his crew's mission sparks a hasty exodus for everyone else and a long cold solo stay on Mars for the mission's botanist and engineer who is left behind, presumed dead. Not being quite ready to embrace the title of "First Man to Die on Mars", Watney commences his travel diary and brutally assesses his chances of survival. They are pretty crap as it turns out but that won't keep a determined survivalist down.

Back at N.A.S.A satellite images soon pick up signs of Watney's endeavors back up on Mars and the decision is made to go all out. A rescue mission is planned. All Watney has to do is stay alive on a barren planet, with little food and zero company, until the cavalry arrives.

The wizardry contained within THE MARTIAN is in the problem solving. Mark Watney can pretty well conjure up any solution in a pinch in order to survive and can see his way through all the natural horrors and survival obstacles that the red planet throws at him. This book is a "hell yeah" homage to science and screams along at a cracking pace. If you have any fingernails left by the time you finish this book, you are one cool customer, and should probably consider throwing in a resume to N.A.S.A. Or perhaps write a book about all the handy stuff you know, just as bitingly as author Andy Weir has conceived.

You'd hesitate to slap a "science fiction" label on this novel. With THE MARTIAN being written so cleverly in everyman (minus all that annoying brainiac condescension that could have been directed at the reader); it really comes across as just that darn believable. Whenever Weir comes up with something, it rings convincingly true. Perhaps tearing chunks off your spacesuit, employing your handy roll of duct tape and any radioactive materials that you've got lying around really can fix all those pesky problems of extreme cold and no oxygen in space.

THE MARTIAN is one of those books that thriller, fantasy and science fiction enthusiasts will inhale. Any other modern reader will most likely love THE MARTIAN too as it is a tense, intelligent read that projects you right off the couch and into space. As you gnaw your own hand off you are right there with Mark Watney, screaming for him to get a wriggle on and becoming tense to the point of concentration tears. It is so ridiculously clever and enjoyable that it is impossible not to caught up in the ultimate race-against-time read that is THE MARTIAN.

So you don't normally read this kind of novel? Read it anyway.

A debut novel for author Andy Weir.
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16 of 17 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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106 of 116 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
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mars - a Survivalist Handbook, 24 April 2014
By 
G. Morgan - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian (Hardcover)
Very enjoyable read and an interesting premise. Persevere beyond the GCSE maths fest that constitutes the first section because fortunately the rest of the book moves on to an actual plot rather than a series of equations. Did feel in retrospect that we don't actually get to know much about our hero beyond his problem solving skills - think most humans in such a situation might display a greater range of emotions, nostalgia etc. But then I am guilty of contemplating the deep fragility of life every time I board easyjet to Bristol. Interesting to compare this with James Smythe's novel The Explorer which dealt with a similar scenario with far more humanity and emotional depth.
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have waited so long for this!, 1 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
Andy started this as an online serialised story years ago, and I have been following it on his website avidly. It's a very witty, well written novel about a man stranded on Mars after an accident causes his crew mates to leave him for dead on the planet. Mark Watney is fighting to survive from the very opening sentence and his successes and failures are thoroughly endearing.

I loved every minute of reading it and I look forward to reading it over and over again. :)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars geeky but enjoyable, 1 July 2013
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
Desert island survival Martian style. Problems galore to overcome, creative solutions needed and more science than you can shake a stick at. Oh and a good story to boot
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3.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, let down by too much science!, 12 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Martian (Paperback)
The premise of "The Martian" is excellent but I felt that the execution could have been better. The hero, Mark Watney, is stranded on Mars and the reader is able, through a series of first person diary entries, to follow his attempts to survive on a day to day basis and to get back to Earth via a rescue mission. The problem is that as a narrator Watney isn't really interested in backstory. We learn very little about him or his fellow crew members and next to nothing about his family or how he came to be an astronaut etc. I suppose that these details aren't fundamental to the story and we can manage without them, but without any kind of human interest, Watney's diary entries are saturated with scientific detail to the point that parts are unreadable. I'll admit that I did skim read large portions because a lot of the details - like how he fixed things - meant nothing to me and I couldn't even envisage any of what was described because I had no idea what any of the stuff was! For more scientifically minded people these sections (hopefully!) make more sense and I do think it is to the credit of the author that he has researched everything so thoroughly, but I'd imagine that the average reader (like me!) will find them either unintelligible or boring or both.

The story is also fairly formulaic in that Watney trundles from disaster to disaster, yet we are never really in any doubt that he will survive. I felt that the main problem with these disasters was that they weren't really exciting, firstly because they kept happening, but also because they merely gave the author a chance to embark on more long-winded scientific explanations of how Watney fixed things (with science, lots of science). The author also has a slightly annoying habit of foreshadowing each disaster by swapping from Watney's first-person narrative to short third-person passages describing the weakness in the machinery or the difficult terrain etc that is going to cause the impending disaster!

I also wish that the ending could have been fleshed out a little more as the story did finish rather abruptly. I would have liked to see more of Watney's reunion with the crew and his return to Earth, but given that the author seems to favour science over human interaction I suppose it isn't surprising that we didn't see this.

Despite all the negatives in my review, I did really enjoy "The Martian". It's a clever idea and, provided you can cope with all the science, it will keep readers gripped until the final pages. It isn't a character-driven story though, so be prepared for people taking a back-seat to science. I came close to giving it a four star review until I remembered that I'd skim-read a lot of the scientific explanations, which probably meant I enjoyed it slightly more!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A geeky triumph, 28 Aug 2014
By 
R. B. Abbott "Richard Abbott" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
I was recommended The Martian by a friend a little while ago, and finished it as a holiday book. A lot of readers find it almost impossible to put down: this was not quite my experience, though I have enjoyed reading it a great deal.

The basic setting is that one member (Mark Watney) of a near-future manned Martian expedition is accidentally left on the planet when the crew have to abruptly abandon the mission. The story then follows Mark’s struggle for survival until the point where a rescue becomes possible. There is a long succession of crises that have to be faced and overcome by a mixture of hard work and inventiveness. Some of the time Mark is able to validate his plans with expert advice from NASA, but at other times he is purely on his own.

The science and engineering aspects have been exceptionally well thought through, so far as I can tell. Mark is able to make creative and credible use of the materials at his disposal, which themselves are plausible for his original mission. To a very large extent the repeated crises drive the plot, and other issues such as character are largely in the background. We do get to learn quite a lot about Mark’s current frame of mind, but much less about his back story, or indeed that of any of the other peripheral characters. It is basically a “geek triumphs over adversity” story, and a splendid example of this.

To a degree the story tails off towards the end. This is largely because the presenting issues are so large that the outcome is either total success or total failure (and hence death). The stakes keep growing, and the possibilities for successfully finding a way out get narrower.

For me, this was a 4* book. It was very well planned out and executed, and a highly believable near-future scenario. Personally I prefer books with more character interaction, which by definition is not going to happen here. But many people will appreciate The Martian for its technical detail and long series of survival challenges.
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Trilling journey, 13 Sep 2014
By 
Mark Barlow (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
When a manned mission to Mars goes wrong and one of their team gets hit they leave him behind when everything points to him being dead. But Mark Watney didn't die and The Martian by Andy Weir tells his story of surviving on a planet where he is the only thing alive.
I found this book to be really well done. Its full of technical science that somehow Weir manages to not let the reader get overwhelmed by and that is partly by the style that the books is written with Mark Watney telling the story in audio diaries. Watney is funny and very down-to-earth (Mars?) While still showing the sort of knowledge that being a NASA astronaut takes. You believe everything he says and you become so involved in his story, his constant battle to simply stay alive on a desolate planet. You want him to succeed and are on tenterhooks every step of the way.
Occasionally the books deviated from Watney's diary entries to show the team at NASA back on Earth and their efforts to get him back but these segment don't bog things down too much. It really is Watney that will keep you hooked.
Don't read it expecting aliens or any other typical science fiction element but do expect to be thrilled every minute of the journey.
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