Review | The Martian by Andy Weir

A gripping book with a sympathetic hero. Even with a couple of quibbles, The Martian deserves 5/5 stars.

The Martian by Andy Weir book cover

The Martian has been described as “Robinson Crusoe in space”. However, we quickly realise that Mark Watney – the astronaut marooned on Mars – makes Defoe’s hero look like a pampered, snivelling amateur.

This book does so many things seamlessly:

  • It makes you believe in and care about the hero within 2 pages, enough so you worry about him and can’t bring yourself to put the book down until you know his latest survivalist science stunt isn’t going to kill him.
  • It juggles action on Mars, Earth and the Hermes (the craft the rest of Watney’s crew mates are using to get back to Earth), often using different timelines, but all in a way that creates a clear, easy-to-follow narrative.
  • The pace is break-neck. We are dropped straight into Watney’s predicament on page 1 and the narrative pressure rarely lets up.
  • It’s surprisingly funny. There’s some great dark humour which provides welcome comic relief.

If I had to nitpick, I’d say that in a couple of places I could have done with less of the highly-technical scientific explanations. I found myself skimming down the page to find out what I really wanted to know: would Watney’s current experiment kill him or not?

But that’s just me being difficult. Overall, The Martian is a tremendous accomplishment and a book I would recommend to everyone (and particularly anyone, like me, who likes sci-fi and wanted to be an astronaut).

P.S. If they screw up the movie of this, heads should roll. I hope it will be Apollo 13, only with more dark comedy and potentially lethal hard science. Here’s the trailer if you haven’t already seen it (WARNING: BIG SPOILERS. If you’d like to read the book before seeing the film, don’t watch this!).

Claire Huston / Art and Soul
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13 thoughts on “Review | The Martian by Andy Weir

    • It’s very good. Can’t beat the old “Oh dear, I seem to have got stranded on Mars with no way to communicate with anyone else and I’m going to die soon if I can’t figure out how to extend my food and other supplies” routine.

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  6. Like you, loved this book and was astounded by how he made all the science so understandable, even to me. I have raved about it to everyone and said read it first before you watch the movie. In fact I think the movie and Matt Damon captured the humour and the feel of the book really well…not an easy thing to do.

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