Review of The Martian by author Andy Weir
The Martian is a science fiction novel with a strong emphasis on the science part. It is highly likely that you have either already read this book or seen the movie. This makes this review a little bit worthless but if you’re still reading then hey thanks! A summary or synopsis of this book is also fairly worthless. Even if you don’t know what happens already.
It would go something like this: Mark is abandoned on mars. He encounters a problem, uses science to fix the problem, encounters another problem, uses science to fix the problem, over and over until the end where he is finally reunited with Earth.
That sounds boring. Thing is, this book is anything but boring.
I saw the movie back when it came out and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure how some fan fiction spin off of Interstellar would play out but I took all of the positive recommendations and everyone was right, it’s a very entertaining movie. I didn’t want to read the book right away though, sometimes you have to take some time to forget the details to enjoy it more.
The Martian book (and movie) is smart, intense, optimistic, and laugh out loud funny. Let’s work backwards through that short list. The character that we focus on throughout the whole book has a very intoxicating sense of humor that makes its way all the way from one planet to another. More than once I found myself actually laughing at his sarcasm and wit.
Now the optimism part. Mark is a naturally optimistic person and manages to maintain a largely positive outlook in an extremely dire situation. But it’s not just his character that is painted ideally. The whole world works together to get him rescued in ways that I am sad to say are the least realistic parts of this book. Yes, sometimes the science is also performed in a best case scenario vacuum but it’s the politics that are far less likely.
This book is basically The West Wing for the scientific community. And that’s okay. Sometimes we need to take a break from how shitty everything is and see the great things humans can accomplish if they set aside their differences to communicate and work together for a common goal.
The author understands that this is not a realistic book and that self awareness helps make it more tongue in cheek than saccharine. It’s simply a good, exciting read with a happy ending and everyone needs those now and then.
That brings us to intense. Even though I knew with absolute certainty that this book would end with Mark coming home the climax had me pulling my hair out. I was on the edge of seat! It’s written marvelously and understands pacing better than any thriller I’ve read in a long time. Weir has a great instinct for when to tap on the gas, when to let up, and when to go full throttle. I plowed through the last 50 pages because by that point I was out of control, bedtime be damned!
Lastly, this book is smart. I honestly hesitate to read a lot of science fiction because all too often they actually mean fantasy. These novels take place in a future that is so far removed that science has just invented magic and all technology is a wand. That’s not what I’m looking for in a science fiction book. Especially because physics should still apply in the future.
The Martian takes real science and real math and applies it to real problems in the real ways that a scientist would. This book answers the age old question whined by frustrated students, “when am I ever going to use this?” This is how you apply math and science. This is what you can do when you use your intellect and everything you’ve been taught. This is how you stay alive and thrive and conquer anything the entire universe throws at you.
Children and teens everywhere should read this book and develop that spark of wanting to learn more. I can’t wait to buy a copy for my nephew when he’s old enough to read!
If you can’t tell, I loved this book and can’t recommend it enough. I also enjoyed the movie but it doesn’t capture his thought process in the same way. The book really focuses on the logic and how you go about tackling these scenarios. They’re both fun but the book has more to offer. I will also say that if you watch the movie first you will be forced to read this book in Matt Damon’s voice. That’s not necessarily bad but I know a lot of readers prefer to create their own worlds.
5/5 Home Planets 🌎🌎🌎🌎🌎
in order to keep me up to my ears in books consider using the following affiliate link to purchase this product. it’s at no extra cost to you and would really help me out, thank you and happy reading!
If you’re looking for a more in depth take regarding the science of The Martian you can visit this article by the Smithsonian. However, it is definitely more about the movie than the book, good thing it’s a loyal adaptation!