Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction
A mission to Mars.
A freak accident.
One man’s struggle to survive.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.
Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.
As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.
But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.
There may be spoilers so don’t read if you haven’t read the book yet!
Before I started this book I’d heard about all the rave reviews about it and the film, I heard that it was very inventive and super sciency. As a bit of a science nerd I figured I’d absolutely love this book! It sounded like the perfect book for me. After reading it not so much.
The story (for those of you who don’t know) follows Mark Watney, an astronaut gets accidentally abandoned on Mars with no hope of rescue for another 4 years. Surely he is dead I hear you say…well no because if that were the case this book would be incredibly short and depressing. Instead we follow Mark’s story of how he is going to survive for the next 4 years until the next crew get to him.
It sounds brilliant and admittedly at the start I was like wow! There’s no way he can survive that long! However Mark is very inventive and it soon becomes clear that he is definitely capable of surviving on this barren planet.
Most people found this book absolutely amazing, they loved the science and the inventiveness and the writing itself from Mark’s perspective. I however did not. 99% of the book is maths, SO MUCH MATHS. About a quarter of the way through as soon as Mark would start talking about figuring something out I would just skim read, I get that obviously there would be lots of intricate and detailed calculations but I feel it was completely unnecessary to put them all in the book. If I do ever get stranded on Mars with this book I will then be very grateful for the calculations however here on Earth they were unnecessary. About halfway through the book I pretty much lost interest, I was pretty sure that NASA was going to find a way to rescue him so there was no point in really finishing the book however I needed it for my reading challenge and had already committed so much time it was just easier to read it than start another book over.
There were a few lines that did make me laugh but I just found the days so repetitive (I know there isn’t much to do on Mars but still). I did like that it was very inventive how he kept himself alive and the detail that went into the intricate process definitely deserves a star in itself.
Towards the end I really didn’t care, pretty much from halfway through the book (if not before) I didn’t care, it was highly likely that he was going to get rescued as it would be a really bad ending to the book if Watney suddenly realised he’d miscalculated the amount of potatoes he had (impossible as the reader gets to go through each step in excruciating detail). What is the point of reading a survival story if you are 99% certain that the guy survives? You’d say well continue reading it for the funny character of Mark Watney…yeah no thanks.
Basically I thought this book was really tough to get through. The story was dull and repetitive and there was just far too many calculations! I bet if you took out all the calculations the book would be a lot more readable, as it is there just isn’t a good enough story there to keep me interested. I wouldn’t recommend this, I tried to like it and see the good points but I just couldn’t. It is inventive and for that it deserves a star or two but that is about it, the story wasn’t engaging enough for me. Sorry!
Summing up: One big mathematical equation, one small star