Mark Watney is one of five astronauts who come to Mars on a rather routine mission. But then things start going wrong and they have to leave – only that Mark gets injured and to his colleagues he looks like he’s dead. With a heavy heart, they decide to leave without him. But Mark survives miraculously. Now he’s alone. On Mars. With very limited supplies. And a broken communication system. And he only has himself to make his supplies last long enough so that he may be rescued.
The Martian was an exciting and entertaining book that I pretty much tore through to find out what happens next. Above all, though, it’s a book that makes you want to learn (natural) science and regret that you never paid attention to physics and chemistry in school.
I expected things to end well for Mark and I was pretty sure that he would be saved. Nevertheless Weir manages to build up so much tension, it’s breathtaking. That’s because it’s full of great characters, people you really care about. And I’m not only talking about Mark, although he really was a special brand of awesome. Also, the book is incredibly funny and had me laughing out loud on several occasions.
Above all, though, the entire book reads like a love letter to (natural) science. I have no clue how accurate everything actually is, but it feels very real. And it’s pretty inspiring. It actually made me regret my utter lack of knowledge in the natural sciences. Maybe I should study physics or chemistry after all? Get another degree and then I’ll may be able to survive on Mars as well?
I also liked the books structure – combining Mark’s logs with scenes on Earth and on the space ship. There were only a couple of moments where that didn’t work for me. In one scene, I just couldn’t believe that Mark would just that particular high stress moment to record a log. In another instance, Weir switches to an all-knowing narrator which wasn’t really necessary.
But those are really minor things in a book that I just fell in love with. I’m really looking forward to the film.