Book Review: The Martian

I recently read The Martian, by Andy Weir on the recommendation of a friend. The basic storyline is an astronaut gets stranded on Mars and he has to figure out how to survive and get off planet. No Spoilers….

The Good

The story is gripping. This is not a book to read late at night, and not because it’s scary; it’s not. It’s a bad book to read late at night because most of us don’t function well with limited sleep, and you will not be sleeping any time soon. There’s no safe place to set the book down where you can go about your day without wondering how on earth he’s going to survive.

The science in the book feels well researched and thought out. I found that immensely pleasurable. Sure, we haven’t currently put anyone on Mars, but if we had, what Weir presents in the book seems not only plausible but likely. I have no idea if it’s accurate or not; doesn’t matter. It feels accurate. It feels right, and that feels wonderful in a book. It makes the suspension of belief easy and comfortable.

I believe this is Weir’s freshman effort in a book, and if that is true, we’re in for a nice future with him. His writing is crisp, the story well crafted, and the organization tight. The characters are a little stilted and cliche, but not outside the realm of believable.

It’s a good book!

The Bad

If language in a book bothers you, this book is not for you. I’m not a fan of the language, though I find it easier to handle in literature than in a movie. When reading I just don’t read the word. You can’t not hear the word in a film. This book is full of, as Courtney loves to quote from Studio C, “swears.” Lots and lots and lots of swears.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about it, and we both mentioned that we would likely at least be thinking those words at the very least. I mean, the guy is essentially dying a long and slow pseudo-death the entire story, and he’s literally never safe, so there’s that. Like I said, if you don’t care for language in your books, this book is not for you.

Some of the disasters seem a little contrived. Not painfully so, but there does get this feeling of, “Come on!!! Can’t you give him a rest?” towards the end of the book when he is facing death. Again. Maybe “still” is the better word?

Conclusion

A great book. I enjoyed it immensely. The book is tense mixed with a wonderful sense of deadpan and irony. You will want to meet the main character (Mark Watney). He’s just got that kind of personality, and he’s wonderfully intelligent.

The language is heavy, though, and for that reason it won’t garner a perfect 4 of 4 stars. Let’s go with 3.5 for now with the right to adjust if I’m still thinking about it a couple weeks down the road. A good book keeps you thinking.

One last complaint… I’m not sure I liked the ending. I mean, I liked the ending, but I don’t think that’s where I would have ended it. It’s one I’m still thinking through. It works.

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