Friday, 22 January 2016

The Martian by Andy Weir

This book is in SBR's
2016 Top Ten Reads

Publication date:  18th August 2015
Published by:  Broadway Books
Genre:  Science Fiction
Read in 2016

Publisher's synopsis
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 while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he 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 isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Sooz Book Reviews Gold Seal of Approval

My Review 

As you may have picked up from the publisher's synopsis, The Martian is a very compelling read.  I found it an absolute joy.  It is very much a character-driven novel.  Most would have given up and accepted their pending doom but not Mark Watney.  

“I’m a survivor! I’m gonna make it!” That song Survivor, by Destiny’s Child comes to mind when I thnk of this book. The way they convey determination and convition is how the character approaches his predicament. Mark is very much a survivor and this is primarily down to his inability to give up, but also his 'glass-half-full' approach to life.  He is also resourceful, clever, and quick-witted - all characteristics that help keep him going against the odds.  He matches the definition of a geek, but not a stereotypical one.  He is a tough-guy (a macho type) and, as such, refuses to show signs of weakness.  He uses his sense of humour as a coping mechanism.

Mark comes across as the inquisitive sort - the kind who continuously asks questions and seek answers.  I imagine that this habit has turned him into a problem-solver (as coming up with solutions  is naturally the next step - when finding answers to problems).  It is no wonder he is a scientist.  Be warned, the novel is packed with detail of how he puts scientific theory into practice.  Much of it went over my head but I was never bored. 

Mostly the chapters read as daily logs (digital diary entries) of what transpired that day and what are his plans for the following day.  As a result, with each log there is increasing tension and anticipation as to whether he had a good day or a disastrous one.  I enjoyed following his progress, although sections of it were nail-biting.  With each triumph I rejoiced with him and with each disaster I worried for his safety.

I loved this book and will definitely revisit it in the future. 

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