So, I read (listened to) The Martian over the holiday weekend. I had around 18 hours of driving to do across the three days so I had some time. Due to breaks and having the daughter in the car not listening to the book I cannot remember exactly how long it was. Suffice to say after 18 hours of driving the wife and I finished the audio book sitting on the couch with my cell phone stuffed into a plastic cup (poor man’s speakers) for at least another hour and a half.
So my first impression. This is a must read. First let me talk about the audio book format. Since I tend to listen to a lot of audio books I am very opinionated about narrators. This particular book was narrated by R.C. Bray, suffice to say I will start looking for his narrated books in the future, he did a fantastic job. That being said, I might be a bit biased as to how well written Andy Weir’s The Martian is, because the voice talent of R.C. Bray is so phenomenal. So, that aside, let’s take a look at Andy Weir’s work.
So this the point where there may be spoilers, if you haven’t read the book, or if you are planning to watch the movie coming out on October 2nd, 2015, then stop here, unless you are not afraid of spoilers then feel free to continue.
Still here? Okay. Here we go.
The Martian takes place in the near future, humanity has managed to create an ion engine capable of landing humans on Mars. The Martian follows Mark Watney, an Engineer/Botanist/Astronaut who was brought on for his charming personality and botany skills. He was supposed to try and grow some grass on Mars. This is the third such mission for humanity, dubbed Aries 3. The first two missions were successful and the third was a science mission.
When a storm threatens their survival the crew of Aries 3 is informed their mission is aborted and they rush to the ship to leave Mars. During their flight Mark is struck by debris from the now derelict radio tower. It hits his bio sensor and the crew believes him dead. Leaving him on Mars.
A few hours later he wakes up.
So this is the premise, the remainder of the book follows Mark Watney’s logs, which are filled with dark humor and a self-deprecation that is humorous and terrifying all the same. Think Cast Away on Mars, but with a great deal of social commentary layered with sarcasm. In fact the opening line of the book is:
I’m pretty much fucked.
That’s my considered opinion.
The remainder of the book goes on to explain and expound on this initial observation as Watney is determined to survive despite the odds against him. Weir manages to weave a tale of desperation colored with wity sarcasm and daring feats. The format of using Watney’s logs to deliver the story spells out what has happened in the previous day with leaving the reader (or listener) waiting to see what happens next.
A masterful weaving of suspense and comedy Weir has quickly become a favorite of mine. Later in the book, just about that time when one might start to wonder if logs was the best way to tell the story the viewpoint changes to Venkat Kapoor, the Director of Mars missions. Venkat and NASA have a third person point of view, which is a great change up from Watney’s more first person mission logs.
From start to finish I never wanted to put this down (stop). For me the readability factor of this book is definitely a 10 out of 10. Which is in line with a movie being adapted from the novel, because bad books usually don’t get a movie, just bad movies have good books. If you are not a fan of sci-fi, that’s okay I think anyone could enjoy this book. Well worth the read.
Until next time.
Your friendly neighborhood author,