The Martian – Book Review

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The Martian by Andy Weir isn’t lacking for quality reviews on the Internet, so it was a little surprising to find the book was available for a free read in exchange for an honest review on Blogging for Books. Already a New York Times Bestseller, the book really doesn’t need my two cents worth, but I’m happy to oblige.

The book follows the plight of astronaut Mark Watney, who is left for dead on Mars by the rest of his crew following an emergency liftoff in the midst of a dust storm. Watney makes clear throughout that his fellow astronauts had no choice but to abandon him or perish themselves. Still, that leaves Watney to fend for himself or die.

Watney, who is The Martian in this case, is a botanist by occupation, and he uses his skills to good measure. He quickly learns to become a potato farmer, converting parts of his lander into a garden to grow calorie-rich spuds that will last him until a rescue mission can be made. He also ingeniously devises methods with which to generate oxygen and water that will last him for the duration, although with a few mishaps along the way.

Our hero recounts each challenge and its scientific solutions in exceeding detail. While it is fascinating to see Watney’s mind at work, to see his ingenuity and resourcefulness overcome every obstacle, the straightforward how-to methodology of each problem and solution can be tedious reading. Page after page is devoted to mathematical reasoning. That obviously lends a real authenticity to the dilemma at hand, but it can make for boring reading after a few pages of such jargon.

Honestly, who knew all those word problems in math class would ever come in handy like this?

As Watney is alone, there is no one to argue with or bounce ideas off other than himself. He does so through a series of journal-like log entries. Thankfully, each entry is short and sweet, so the book reads at a fairly fast pace despite the scientific mumbo jumbo.

Many reviewers have pointed out that first-time novelist Weir fails to incorporate much in the way of a human element or characterization to Watney. He doesn’t dwell on family or friends, hopes, dreams, or aspirations. Rather, the reader is supposed to be satisfied that his goal is survival and little else. That makes for a less engaging read for those looking for an escapist sort of story.

Check out The Martian and give it a read.

 

Guest review contributed by G. Robert Frazier’s Adventures in Writing. Robert has an interesting mix of information about books, movies, screenwriting, and acting, including advice articles.

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4 thoughts on “The Martian – Book Review”

  1. Sounds like a whole ton of jargon. Although I don’t usually have anything wrong with too much description (I read Atlas Shrugged, where the author spent two pages describing a building) it’s one of the fastest ways to turn me off of a book. I’ve never heard of Blogging for Books before, so thanks for sharing that. I’d like to go check it out! Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm. interesting to read your review. I have read the book some months ago and found it quite enjoyable, even though the ending was somewhat forseeable. I believe what is happening here is, that I consider myself part of the (hard-)core science fiction audience (having read many sci-fi books over the years) and that particular audience is quite content with a book heavy on milieu and events and their detailed description. But with the book showing up in the bestseller lists many readers come from other audiences as well and these readers expect a much fuller development of the main character incl. a growth of the character over the course of the story. This does not happen here as you have experienced yourself and makes engagement with the character more difficult.

    Like

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