The Martian by Andy Weir.
I’ve always loved space, since I was a young girl one of my favourite things would be to go outside with my dad as he held my hand and explained the constellations to me and pointed things out. As much as I love reading and writing, I’ve often been known to say that I wish I would have been better at mathematics and sciences in general because being an astrophysicist actually sounds quite appealing to me. So it’s no surprise that this book has been on my radar for quite some time now.
It kicks off with the crew of Hermes abandoning the Ares 3 mission after a catastrophic sandstorm hits Mars. With the MAV in danger of being compromised Commander Lewis makes the decision to leave behind Mark Watney, who after being hit by debris is believed to be dead by his fellow crewmates. But as daylight breaks on Mars during Sol 6 it turns out that Watney is very much alive. Of course his crew are now on a four month journey back to earth and it’s safe to say that Mark is in a terrifying situation which the book can articulate much better than I.
‘So that’s the situation. I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last thirty-one 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 fucked.’
But of course this is Mark’s first log, the day after it’s pretty clear he isn’t going to let these things stand in his way. Currently the next Ares mission is due to land in the Schiaparelli Crater of Mars, but the issue is this isn’t going to be for four years. So it is down to Mark Watney, a botanist and mechanical engineer to find a way to survive. He’s such a great character, clearly intelligent with a brilliant sense of humour that instantly I was rooting for him.
Back on earth NASA have held a funeral for Mark and it seems that he has been forgotten, that is until Mindy Park who monitors the status of the satellites around Mars notices images that show movement of the Rover. Pretty soon the whole of NASA is aware that Watney is alive and instantly set out to try and find a way to not only communicate with him but find a way to keep him alive until they can send another mission. This is all easier said than done and there’s lots of inner and outer politics as well as money and time constraints. And the book pretty much follows this pattern throughout, flitting between Mark on Mars trying to find a way to survive and the folks at NASA trying to do the same.
Despite having a lot of science and technology speak the book is pretty easy reading because Andy Weir found a great way for Watney to narrate and simplify the tasks he is carrying out. What’s great about the story though is the humour, the way Mark always seems to stay positive even in the face of adversity, and trust me he faces all that Mars has to throw at him and more.
This book had me gripped so much so that I was actually annoyed upon reaching work as it meant I had to go 8+ hours without being able to read it. The chapters were so intense that I swear I held my breath during the flyover, and I was sat on the edge of my seat. I became a reading cliché and I’m not afraid to admit it. This is one book that you really SHOULD read. Amazing!
Star Rating out of 5: 5
‘But now there was nothing. I never realized how utterly silent Mars is. It’s a desert world with practically no atmosphere to convey sound. I could hear my own heartbeat.’
And the film?
Well yes, I did go and see the film. I had to after enjoying the book so much. I always try and read the book beforehand so I can imagine everything in my own mind and I have to say the film was pretty spot on. Yes they glossed over some of the earlier parts and didn’t fully explain the ways Mark Watney modified things and built things to help his survival and they changed the ending slightly BUT all in all it was really enjoyable. My husband hadn’t read the book and came out of the cinema gushing about how gripping and intense it was.
Also I loved the casting, Matt Damon was the perfect choice for Watney. His comedic timing of Watney’s smart mouthed comebacks to NASA and one liners were impeccable. Equally there were great performances from Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Donald Glover. It was visually stunning and if you’re not a bookworm or don’t think the book is for you then I implore you to check out the film because it’s just as good.
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have read the book, or seen the film…Or both. Get in touch by commenting below, and until next time, happy reading.