My reading year started out with a BAM! Quite literally, as our protagonist in THE MARTIAN is good for more than one explosion. Here goes my review:
First things first, one of my reading goals this year was to read more Science-Fiction, there was a lot of both in Andy Weir’s THE MARTIAN and it had been on my TBR pile for quite some time. In this book, we follow our protagonist Mark Watney, a NASA astronaut who in on a mission on Mars when a sandstorm forces him and his team to evacuate the planet – Mark gets hit by flying trash, his crew thinks he’s dead and when he wakes up, he is alone on Mars without a way to communicate with Earth or with his team. Instead of giving up hope he uses everything he has – and I mean EVERYTHING – to survive and set up a way of communicating with Earth.
It’s like the movie “Cast Away” – but in space!
How can a book about one person’s struggles to get back to civilisation be any good, you ask? The same way the movie “Cast Away” with Tom Hanks got nominated for 2 Oscars way back when: a hero who never gives up even when he gets hurt and a lot of humorous soliloquies. Where Tom Hanks had his faithful Wilson, Mark Watney talks to a computer and records everything he does. Where Tom Hanks has to learn to make fire, Mark Watney has to make water out of thin air (I mean oxygen 😉 ). The way the story of “the Martian” was told – through recordings and log entries – was truly unique. The heavy science was balanced out beautifully through Mark’s humour and never-ending optimism.
The only reason, that this wasn’t a 5-star book for me was that one little thing the author did: Every now and again Andy Weir would add in explanations like “Remember when I did x? This explains what I’m about to do now.” or “I’m about to do z because 5 pages before I did y.” Some of it makes sense, especially since this book is pretty science-heavy at times. But after a while this started to annoy me and it felt unnecessary and patronizing. I’m sure the author meant well, I just don’t think that Mark Watney would actually explain himself in that way to himself, as I’m sure he can remember well enough what he did and why…
Andy Weir obviously did a lot of research and it definitely paid off! There isn’t one boring second in this novel and fact is: This book it Science-Fiction at its best.