Andy Weir,
The Martian
(Crown, 2014)

Space and planet exploration are among my favorite topics to read about and discuss. When I first saw this book, I judged it by the cover and assumed it would be awesome. I was completely right. Almost everything about this book was amazing, and I loved it every page of the way. I'm not gonna lie, I have never really loved a book that doesn't have some sort of deeper meaning or interesting theme; for me description can only go so far because I have a hard time picturing them, but this book is an exception.

The plot is about an astronaut, Mark Watney, who specializes in botany and engineering; he gets stuck on Mars after a catastrophic accident separates him from the rest of his team as they are taking off to go back to Earth. Obviously, Watney wants to get home, and this book will detail that in a series of journal entries he writes. To some, the journal format is a big turn-off in novels, and I can understand it, but I thought that in this book it worked well. Watney is a sort of space MacGyver, and since he is a NASA trained engineer, he can pretty much fix anything; reading the way he will fix problems and what happens never stops being interesting.

That is pretty much it for the plot; the book isn't dense with other storylines. Besides Watney's journal entries, other portions of the book detail what NASA personnel are doing to try and help him.

I found few negatives. The story is interesting, sort of Castaway in space. I haven't read anything like it. Mars isn't just a backdrop to interest the reader -- it is basically a character. The setting is done wonderfully, you can tell the author researched Mars extensively. The main character is a smart-ass, though, turning my image of astronauts as being professional and serious on its head.

I had only two problems with the book, and one isn't even really a problem. Only the main character was really fleshed out, while everyone else was sort of a cliche. Also, some of the science went over my head, and I found myself sort of scanning when I ran into that stuff; I call this a semi-problem because it also means the book is so well researched that you'd have to really know this stuff to not have it go over your head. It is explained well and you never feel like you're missing anything.

This book was amazing. The ending and the 40 pages leading up to it were the most intense scenes I've ever read.

book review by
Vlady Kozubnyak

13 December 2014

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