Review: “The Martian” by Andy Weir

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Broadway Books, 2015

The Martian had been on my list of books to read for a long time, a product of numerous recommendations from discerning friends. Then I saw the trailer for the upcoming film based on it, and had to read it immediately.

Six days after landing on the surface of Mars, an unforseen dust storm forces the Ares 3 crew to abandon their mission and head for home. En route to their ascension vehicle, botanist Mark Watney is hit with a piece of debris and his vitals flatline on the monitor. Heartbroken but resolute, his crewmates successfully reach orbit and begin the long journey back to Earth. Back on Earth, the world mourns Mark Watney as the first man to die on Mars. There’s just one problem….Watney’s not dead. Yet. Alone on Mars, one hundred and forty million miles from home, Watney is going to have to use all of his ingenuity to salvage what he needs to survive from the scant resources available to him. It will be four years before NASA can mount a rescue mission, even if he manages to alert them to his situation. He’s got food for about a year, if he stretches it. Unless Watney manages to pull off a miracle, he’s still going to be the first man to die on Mars, even if everything else goes his way. And Watney knows better than to count on that happening….

Read this book. Do it now! Okay, fine, you can finish the one you’re in the middle of first, but then you really need to read The Martian. No excuses! Why? Because The Martian quite simply the very best book I have read in a very long time. Most of the book is focused on Watney, understandably, and his mission logs are undoubtedly the high point of the book. The humor and sarcasm unleashed by Mars’ lone inhabitant is truly a wonder to behold. But even the characters back on Earth, the personalities at NASA, are all very well developed and unique characters in their own right. At times, I literally laughed out loud while reading. I was banned from reading the book after my wife fell asleep, for fear I would wake her with my laughter. And yet  the book is also a very real, very raw examination of the human will to survive. There’s more profanity than I would prefer, but if anyone has the right to curse it’s the guy stuck a hundred and forty million miles from home.

CONTENT: R-rated language throughout. Mild sexual innuendo. Occasional violence, of the accidental variety, and its aftermath.

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