I’ll go ahead and warn you about the huge spoiler a little down the page because there’s no way I could review this book without talking about the ending. So if you haven’t read it, here’s the short version. Read it. Skip the review until then. It’s worth it, I promise.
Onward. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up The Martian. I knew it was sci-fi, but I didn’t know what kind or how far-out it would be. I thought there might be evil aliens lurking in corners, waiting to spring on Mark Watney at every corner. Turns out that’s not it at all.
The Martian is about an astronaut stranded on Mars. Shortly after he and his crew landed, there was an accident, and they thought he was dead, so they followed orders and left. Except he wasn’t dead: his suit had been punctured, and it was sending out incorrect data. The rest of the crew heads home, and Watney has to figure out what to do. The next mission isn’t supposed to arrive for over a year, and he only has supplies for a couple hundred days. So…
A lot of the novel is made up of Mark’s log entries, which describe what he does to try to stay alive. After not too long, though, someone at NASA sees him on a satellite picture, so at least they know he’s alive. Watney had a dual role with the crew: botanist and mechanical engineer. He can fix stuff. So he makes a several-day journey to pick up one of the lost rovers, brings it back to his base, and gets it working again, allowing him to communicate with NASA. And that’s only the beginning.
So here’s the *MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT* you’ve been waiting for. By the end of the book, I was so emotionally involved because of all of the things Watney survived that I would have been so angry if he died. This book might have dropped to two Goodreads stars solely to reflect my frustration level. But no! Andy Weir was reasonable and allowed Watney to survive, eventually returning to Earth. I especially liked the very end, in which a kid asks him if, given the chance, he’d return to Mars: “Are you fuckin’ crazy?” Yes, indeed. *End MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT*
Oh, how I enjoyed this book. Weir did an amazing amount of research and applied it brilliantly. I should probably mention that I listened to the audiobook as I was walking a certain dog, and I think I liked it more because of that. The Martian is the perfect book for audio. At one point, I was worried I’d have to walk home crying. I’m not sure the book would have had the same effect.
Which all means you should read The Martian if you haven’t already. It’s realistic sci-fi at its best.
Featured photo credit: NASA