Published by Crown on February 11th 2014
Genres: Hard Science Fiction, Space Exploration, Action & Adventure
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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?
Yeah, science! I hope you like it, because this book is all science, all the time. Oh, and math. Mathematical science and scientific math. Yeah! Lol. You would think that this combo would make for a boring book, but you’d be wrong.
There is a man. He’s stuck on Mars. On Mars, people. He’s the only human on that entire barren planet. Wrap your mind around that for a moment. You might think that with strong convictions and a little determination, you could survive on Mars. No. No, you couldn’t. It takes a special kind of person to pull off surviving on Mars for any amount of time. It takes a person that is 1/4 botanist, 1/4 astronaut, 1/4 awesome and 1/4 frikkin MacGyver, because that shit is rough. Even with all of those things under your belt, the odds are still way not in your favor.
The logistics of trying to survive on Mars are so beyond my comprehension, that it’s mind-boggling. This isn’t like “taking the wrong hiking trail and getting lost for three weeks in a forest” type of survival. This is “trying to survive with little resources in a hostile and completely alien environment that is actively trying to kill you at all times” type of survival. This is “perfectly exact calculations and very precise knowledge” type of survival. This is insane type of survival.
I’ve never read a book that was so scientifically technical that wasn’t a science textbook, but unlike those much-hated tomes, this was interesting science. It was fascinating to see this astronaut encounter problem after problem and watch him work through solutions. Many of the issues were harrowing experiences, so you’ll be on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what he’ll do next.
This is one plucky guy. I don’t use the term MacGyver lightly when I say that this guy was frikkin MacGyver. Luckily, everything was extremely believable and not once did I question anything that happened in the entire book. Am I a scientist? No. Am I a botanist? No. Am I MacGyver? Debatable. Do I have solid proof that all of the science in this book is verifiably accurate? No. But I believed all of it. To my simple mind, it sounded really good and very well-researched.
I like to think that I’m the type to push forward and persevere in times of crisis, but I’m pretty sure that after a couple of sols on Mars, I’d be close to throwing in the towel. Even if I thought I could survive and be the only human on Mars for the rest of my life, once I realized that I would have to live a life without Twinkies, Fritos and steaks, I would definitely throw in the towel and go out Total Recall style.
To add to the believable and highly palatable awesomeness of the MC, he was also hilarious.
“I can’t wait till I have grandchildren. When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!”
I laughed out loud too many times to count.
The best part of this book is never knowing how it will end. There are only a few options. Either he’ll get off the planet and get back to Earth or he’ll spend the rest of his days on Mars as the lone Martian. Maybe he’ll die a fiery death and the book will end on a sad, but poignant note. You’ll never guess, because all options are viable, so you’ll read the whole book with anticipation and interest.
For some, this book will be too technical. I love science and I love a good survival story, so, to me, the whole thing was fascinating. Some people enjoy books that are more focused on character interactions and emotions. There are secondary characters in this story, but this is a man on Mars. He’s going to spend a lot of time alone and he’s going to be dealing with his situation the entire time. Just keep that in mind. That being said, I highly recommend this one. Despite being chockfull of the ever-dreaded science and math, there’s never a dull moment here.
Aaaaaannnnd just in case you’ve been living under a moon rock and missed it, the movie adaptation comes out in October 2015, starring this tasty morsel: