Andy Weir’s science-fiction novel, “The Martian,” was initially released in 2011 when the author self-published it and was re-released in 2014 with an official publisher. It’s still on the bestseller list, and it was adapted into a film by Ridley Scott, starring Matt Damon as the main character. The film will be released in October of this year.
The novel begins with NASA astronaut botanist and mechanical engineer Mark Watney being stranded on Mars by his crew after abandoning their mission due to an intense storm. The entire crew thought he was dead after seeing him impaled by an antenna and thrown away from them during the storm.
Throughout the novel, readers feel as though they are trapped on Mars with Watney as he navigates through the environment and the mission’s hub, which is still full of enough supplies to last a while; however, the time it would take Earth to formulate a rescue mission and implement it highly outweighs the time he can survive on the supplies.
Watney is trapped on the desolate red planet in an extremely dire situation, but he still manages to be hilarious and witty while trying to outsmart the odds. Anyone else would probably be filled with negativity if they were in his current predicament, but he is constantly cracking jokes about the obstacles he’s facing.
Watney isn’t the only character, however. We get a glimpse into the lives of the rest of Watney’s crew while they fly back to Earth, as well as the most important people at NASA headquarters. All these secondary characters help move the novel along, while also getting a sense of how others feel about and deal with the abandonment of Watney.
It’s a struggle as Watney tries to figure out ways to contact all of these people back on Earth who could help him survive longer, and they eventually send help for him. Readers will probably find themselves getting emotional at certain points throughout the story, especially at the big turning points and climax. I know that I did.
There’s a surprising amount of mathematics in the novel, as Watney explains everything he must do for survival in great detail. It tends to read like a textbook at times, but it is generally simple to follow, while being entertaining. Readers actually learn a bit about the mechanics and inner workings of a mission to, from and on Mars, which shows just how nerdy the novel can be.
If you’re looking for a pure sci-fi tale that is both humorous and scarily intense, then look no further because “The Martian” is just for you. It was on a number of summer reading lists this year, but there is never a bad time to pick up this fun and exhilarating book.
Most importantly, remember: It’s OK to geek out while you read this fun, sometimes emotional survival story.