Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: science fiction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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 and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and 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—and 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?
This was so much fun! One of the funniest books I've read. If you haven't started reading this yet, what are you waiting for? GO GO GO.
The best way I can describe this book is as a snarky version of the movie Gravity. In Gravity, you have Sandra Bullock struggling to survive in the midst of exploding space stations and dramatic music. It's nerve-wracking and intense, but come on, weren't there times when you were rolling your eyes and saying really? ANOTHER exploding space station? Really? In The Martian, Mark Watney is stuck on Mars indefinitely, armed only with a small space probe and a sense of humor. You don't need to turn on your sarcasm, because Watney does it for you. He launches into nerdy jokes and colorful descriptions of daily life on Mars.
Things are constantly going wrong, and Watney is constantly coming up with ingenious ways to fix it. This guy is a mechanical engineer and a botanist, and he puts that knowledge to good use. I must say that as an engineer I was delighted by the technical stuff, but I can also say that even if you aren't big on technical details, you'll know what's going on.
Another things I appreciated about this book was the inclusion of the ramifications on earth. There's a media frenzy, of course, and NASA is frantically trying to figure out how to fix this situation with the media looking over its shoulder. The President puts in a good word about courage and hope and all those other big words we like to throw around, and nations abandon their differences in order to bring someone back home to Earth. It's a tongue-in-cheek look at politics and bureaucracy in our world, and it's great.
I have never laughed so much while reading a book. I loved Watney's optimism and sense of humor. Even in the most traumatic situations, he finds something funny to say. I guess it's his way of surviving - if you gave up hope while you were the only person on Mars, there'd simply be no way that you'd make it. The interludes with Venkat and the others at NASA were refreshing and kept the survival story from getting dull.
Go read this.