Friday, September 4, 2015

The Martian (Andy Weir)

The Martian
Andy Weir
Broadway Books
Fiction, Sci-Fi
***** (Great)

DESCRIPTION: Six astronauts came to the red planet with the Ares 3 mission. Only five left. A catastrophic dust storm threatened their return vessel, prompting an emergency mission abort - only the storm caught Mark Watney and swept him away from his companions. They had no choice but to leave without his body.
But Mark survived. And now he's alone, without a working radio, stranded with a habitat and supplies that were only meant to last for a 31-day mission. In order to survive until the next Mars mission arrives - four years out - he'll have to do some heavy adaptation.
Fortunately, astronauts have a reputation for on-the-fly thinking.
Unfortunately, on Mars, any mistake could be his last.

REVIEW: It's been a while since a book pulled me into a reading binge like The Martian did. Starting fast, with a man in a crisis of otherworldly proportions, it pulls the reader into an absorbing tale of disaster, triumphs, and catastrophes. Real-world science plays heavily into Mark's story, and the efforts of NASA and the world (including his Ares 3 crewmates) to concoct a one-of-a-kind rescue mission across interplanetary space, but it never overwhelms the reader; Weir delivers it in bite-sized chunks for us educationally-challenged folks, with layperson summaries that don't belittle or diminish the core ideas. Remarkably, Weir also manages to build very human characters, as the whole story would fall flat if nobody cared about the people involved. Even as Mark copes with the raw data and the odd disaster, he deals with the sheer isolation and boredom of his unintended exile using humor (and a fair bit of well-justified cursing)... not to mention raiding leftovers from his crewmates in search of entertainment. This kind of balance between hard science and human interest is a tricky feat indeed, but Weir pulls it off brilliantly here. That, plus the fast pace and many nail-biting moments, not to mention its aforementioned power to drag me into binge reads, earn it a solid five-star rating.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Remnants: The Mayflower Project (K. A. Applegate) - My Review
Hatchet (Gary Paulsen) - My Review
Red Mars (Kim Stanley Robinson) - My Review

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