This book was provided by Blogging For Books, but my review and opinions expressed are 100% my own.
You may have heard of this little title if not for the film starring Matt Damon but perhaps the novel written by Andy Weir. I read this book in preparation for the film (of which I was also a huge fan of) and was amazed at how well the director was able to capture the feeling of isolation and a desperate need for survival that I personally felt while reading. From beginning to end I was completely engaged with the story, rooting for Mark, meanwhile learning a little more about space in the process.
For those not familiar with the plot, Mark Watney is an astronaut that is part of a research team to Mars. During one of their EVAs (Extra-Vehicular Activity, which is pretty much any excursion on the surface of Mars) the team is caught in a strong dust storm which forces their evacuation. During the chaos of trying to evacuate during this storm, Mark is picked up and thrown and his crew, thinking him dead, evacuates without him; leaving him stranded on Mars’ surface alone and with limited resources. OMG, right?! The Martian chronicles his inventive attempts at survival and it’s in his humor that both the reader and the character finds strength to keep going.
I don’t know about you, but space is something that is equally fascinating yet terrifying at the same time. To know how deep, dark, and desolate space is, but yet here I sit in awe and wonder about it’s beauty and creation. Something so vast is still so terrifying and I feel as though Andy Weir captured that for me as a reader. And yes this book is filled with quite a bit of NASA/engineering jargon, but what made it digestible for me was Andy Weir’s choice to make this story a first person narrative. I really enjoyed the aspect of experiencing and thinking everything Mark was as things were happening to him during his mission to Mars. The best kind of storytelling, in my opinion, is one to which I feel transplanted right in the middle of the action and The Martian did that for me. Plus the humor Mark found in many of his harrowing circumstances kept him down-to-earth (no pun intended) and highly relatable.
“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do. And because of that, I had billions of people on my side” (pg. 369).
Reading this story is also a reminder of the tremendous work people do every day to help those in need – even if it is a fictional story. Here was a guy who, drifting between literal life and death situations, found many nations, space organizations, as well as the public around the world, working together in an effort to bring this man back to Earth. I would like to believe these efforts occur all the time; and in a climate like today I personally wouldn’t mind if a little fiction became reality.