Book Review

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

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But really, they did it because every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it’s true.

The Martian is a science fiction novel written by American novelist Andy Weir that was published in 2011. The book follows the adventure of a stranded astronaut in Mars in the year 2035 and how he managed to survive 549 sols (Martian day) alone.

Mark Watney is part of NASA’s crewed mission named Ares 3 that sends astronauts to Mars for exploration. Ares 3’s mission failed when on Sol 6, their landing area, Acidalia Planitia was hit by a dust storm which resulted to their evacuation. In this evacuation, only five out of the original six crews of Ares 3 were able to successfully board and launch the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) into space leaving behind one crew member -Mark Watney. This was brought about by Watney’s injury that left him unconscious which then led his crew members to believe him dead.

Watney then woke up to the realization that he is stranded in Mars ALONE and that he is fucked up! He spent the next days -err, sols coming up with various plans on how he will survive life on Mars. Along the way, he came up with solutions such as planting crops (from their mission’s stock) to feed him and fixing communication devices so he can talk to Earth. NASA on the other hand, later on found out that Watney is still alive in Mars and so this started their mission to bring him home alive. Through the combined efforts of the geniuses from NASA and resourcefulness of Watney, he was able to get home after 549 challenging, life-threatening solar days in Mars.

The book was largely written in the form of Watney’s Log or journal entries in Mars and through a third person narrative for Earth-related scenarios. It’s quite a book for geeks as contents of it could get way too “technical” with all the terms the author used to describe how Watney performed certain experiments to stay alive. A good example of this was when he decided to produce water in Mars for his crops. PRODUCE. WATER. IN. MARS!

I liked it for its wit and humor and how it was able to engage me still, in spite of all the technical/scientific phrases used to almost distract me. I like books with a fast-pace storytelling, and though The Martian seemed to stumble over Watney’s experiments here and there, I thought that his story is quite on the fast side in general.  What I didn’t like though, is how it got to a point where the cycle of Watney finding out something’s wrong and fixing it in the end became too repetitive. I also didn’t like how on some parts of it, I felt like I was reading the journal of a nerd, bragging about his latest science project while trying to sound funny.

I’d rate this book 4 out of 5 stars for I felt that it was a very well thought-out book. I like how the story is firm to the plot and no other distracting thoughts or events were strewn to it. I thought it is quite an educational read in some ways for people like me that have forgotten all about their Chemistry and Physics background (if there are any).

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