The Martian Paperback – 27 Aug 2015
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"Andy Weir's masterpiece!" (Tom Hanks Twitter)
"Watney's gallows humour and his brushes with death as he uses every ounce of his intelligence and astronaut's training to claw his way out of the pit will have you laughing and gasping by turns. I read this book in a weekend. I didn't think I'd have the time to - but Andy Weir's edge-of-the-seat storytelling didn't leave me any choice." (Richard Madeley, Richard and Judy Book Club)
"Andy Weir's terrific 'lost in space' novel is an absolute page turner from first to last ... Tautly-written, full of extraordinary and fascinating detail about life in a frozen red desert so far from home, The Martian is one of the best thrillers either of us has read in years. Highly recommended." (Judy Finnigan, Richard and Judy Book Club)
"The best book I've read in ages. Clear your schedule before you crack the seal. This story will take your breath away faster than a hull breech. Smart, funny, and white-knuckle intense, The Martian is everything you want from a novel." (Hugh Howey New York Times bestselling author of Wool)
"Accomplished…believable but suspenseful as [Watney] battles against the odds for survival" (The Guardian)
"like Gravity meets Robinson Crusoe – utterly nail-biting and memorable." (James Lovegrove FT)
"A book I just couldn’t put down! It has the very rare combination of a good, original story, interestingly real characters and fascinating technical accuracy…reads like MacGyver meets Mysterious Island." (Astronaut Chris Hadfield Commander of the International Space Station and author of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth)
"The amount of research here is astounding. We’re suckers for well-grounded fiction, and on the technical side, The Martian is exemplary ... witty ... funny" (SFX)
"The Martian kicked my ass! Weir has crafted a relentlessly entertaining and inventive survival thriller, a MacGyver-trapped-on-Mars tale that feels just as real and harrowing as the true story of Apollo 13." (Ernest Cline New York Times bestselling author of Ready Player One)
"Weir’s debut is easily the best SF novel of the year so far" (Financial Times)
A high concept thriller and genre busting classic, now a major motion picture starring Matt DamonSee all Product description
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I think one of the reasons this book is so popular, and certainly why I liked is it that Mars feels so tantalizingly close. I hesitate to classify this as sci-fi, simply because technically speaking most of the stuff in the book is feasible now - it's more an engineering problem to be solved, and political will that stops us solving that problem. There are no warp drives, lasers, aliens (hope that's not a plot spoiler) or other staples of sci-fi - just a guy trying to get home after getting stranded far from home. Reading this made Mars feel even closer - I hope some day soon we get there.
The book and is carried on the witticisms and banter of main character Mark Watney, the titular Martian, and are jam-packed with pop culture references, science-y bits, and one-line zingers. And whilst I appreciated them, even found them amusing, this is also the story’s downfall. It sounds like the kind of dialogue I’d exchange with my equally nerdy friends on a Saturday night meet up – not Apollo 13 on Mars as it was billed to me by the hype. As a result it feels like it’s missing a sense of epic scale, and the stakes just don’t feel that high. At no point did I ever feel awed, or gripped, or really worried for Watney. Whenever something went wrong I simply wondered how he was going to fix it this time and what amusing commentary he’d provide. I never worried for a minute about his ultimate survival. Fun and entertaining? Yes. Compelling and thrilling? No.
The writing is competent, not outstanding. Apart from the complicated science-y bits, the language is kept simple, which is good for accessibility of the average reader, but for me I felt it lacked a little bit of creative flair – the language is very functional and to the point, there’s very little evocative imagery or creative description. The characters are largely functional too. Outside of Watney, everyone else basically boils down to their job at NASA or their role (e.g. Mark’s parents, Vogel’s wife, etc.). Watney himself is interchangeable – his vital stats could be swapped out for someone older/younger male/female American/non-American and there be no difference whatsoever to what happens in the plot.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. It’s amusing, it’s entertaining, it’s interesting – it’s just not the most amazing, earth-shattering book ever written, so don’t go into it expecting that. It reminds me a lot of an old classic actually – The Moon Is Hell by John Campbell – in its diary format and its functional problem-solving (minus the crime solving that also goes on in Campbell’s novel).
The idea of being stranded on Mars with some kit and having to improvise to survive is a fascinating one.
At first I found the diary like daily status reports and our hero`s gung-ho attitude a bit wearisome, but as the story unfolded I soon changed my mind and found Watney quite inspiring. It has much to do with courage in the face of adversity and a sense of humour as well as the spirit of adventure. A great book in my opinion!
That's not to say it's without its flaws. I found the beginning where it is more or less exclusively filled with Watneys logs, a bit of a slog. I also thought the amount of technical detail gone into when problem solving was needed(quite often as you can imagine from the subject matter) was over the top and unnecessary, perhaps to the point where my interest would wane and I'd find myself hoping the in depth description of the technicalities of solving the particular problem would be over as soon as possible.
The story does really open up when NASA and its employees are brought in and indeed its other employees in outer space(Watneys crew mates)on the Hermes. The dynamic becomes much better and the story becomes much better fleshed out and enjoyable.
Despite my criticisms, I still found this a cracking read overall and was fully engaged 90% of the time. You really do find yourself rooting for Watney, which is always a good sign. I read this in about a week, which is very good going for me, so that says to me that I did really enjoy this book and so I've given it a just about deserved four stars.
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