Book Review – The Martian by Any Weir

Step aside MacGuyver, we have a new hero… and a new planet to conquer!

The Martian Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Science Fiction

No. of pages: 369

From Goodreads:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

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I’d seen some high ratings for this title, and many of my friends were raving about it, so I grabbed a copy and read it over the weekend with no idea what the story was about other than an astronaut gets left behind on Mars. Plus with a movie due to be released, I wanted to get the book under my belt before ‘The Martian’ hit the cinemas.

The Martian Book Review Pic 05 by Casey CarlisleHoly crap! This book took be on an unexpected ride. Although written in a more serious tone, with science and technical facts intertwined with the plot, Mark Watney, our intrepid astronaut has a dry humour that had me cheering and laughing out loud. This book is a bit like nerd porn – Watney survives only because of his knowledge and being able to MacGuyver contraptions to increase his odds of survival. Truly impressive.

After a diet high in YA of recent months, ‘The Martian’ was a true delight – a welcome change in style and subject matter.

Mark is a true testament to keeping your head on straight in the face of adversity. His comedic timing is also on point – and that humours side of him is what keeps him alive just as much as his ingenuity. I loved the scattered facts and maths problems; it reminded me of grade school exams, like if Billy had 10 green apples and Norris had 16 red apples and Helen made apple sauce with half of each of Billy and Norris’ apples, what would it taste like? Yeah I know it makes no sense, and at first that’s what it’s like when we see the problems Watney faces. And then he comes up with a solution that totally makes sense. It’s like you’ve got the teachers edition textbook with all the answers in the back of the book.

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Some may find the writing style a bit dry, with switching POV’s between Watney, the crew on the shuttle and those in Earth at NASA – and a lot of technical information. But I’m a big science geek and lurved it! This book has such a heavy realistic feel that it doesn’t feel like you are reading science fiction at all, but rather some historical text book.

The overall plot was predictable – it wouldn’t be a great book without the desirable outcome – but it’s all about the journey! And did that throw me in a tailspin. From one moment to the next I never knew what was going to happen. Especially when Watney’s circumstances are so dire. So, even with a witty but dry narrative, the pacing is anything but slow. I spent the weekend devouring this book whenever I had a spare moment. I’m sure it I hadn’t been so busy I would have plonked myself on the couch and not gotten up until I’d finished.

The Martian Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleI also listened to the audiobook on a trip to New South Wales because I enjoyed the novel so much, and have to say it was outstanding. The narrator did a bang up job, and I’d highly recommend purchasing the audiobook, or novel. Let’s hope the movie blows me away just as much. I’m already excited knowing Mat Damon and Kristen Wiig are in the cast.

If you have any fascination on landing on the moon or mars or space travel – this is one for you! ‘The Martian’ is definitely in my top five reads for 2015.

Overall feeling: Amazeballs!

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