book review: the martian, andy weir

18007564 book review: the martian, andy weirTitle: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Category: Fiction, Science-Fiction
Publisher: Crown; February 11, 2014
Starred Review: 5 stars

Let me begin with this: this book is AMAZING. No, seriously, unputdownably amazing.

Now, to continue: I’m picky when it comes to my science-fiction. So when I read it, I need to make sure I can connect with it. Anything that takes me out of the story or reminds me that I’m reading a story brings my enjoyment down a notch. Now I’m not talking about unbelievability or stretching my imagination — those don’t necessarily give me reading pause. But what I mean is the writing and reading experience itself. I’m not too big on elaborate world-building or technical-sounding writing. I don’t like to have to think way too hard to imagine what’s being described to me. A lot of this falls into the tone of a book, and sometimes science-fiction has a detached tone; it’s just a side-effect of the genre, I think. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s just not in my taste. I need to latch onto the story, the character, the tone, the voice, the everything if I want to really enjoy a work of science-fiction.

This is absolutely one of the huge reasons I devoured and adored The Martian. Sure, it takes place in the future an indeterminate numbers of years from now. Sure, it takes place on Mars. Sure, it has a lot of technical jargon and space mumbo-jumbo that I can’t tell if Weir made up or if it actually exists. Sure, it creates a world and an existence on Mars out of nothing we can comprehend with our own experiences. But it does all of that in a down-to-earth, familiar, easy-to-read, talking with your best friend sort of way.

In a word, it is the perfect blend of all of the problems I have with a lot of science-fiction, but only because that blend had been smoothed out and poured into my favorite Batman cup so it feels warm and familiar in my hands.

I don’t want to give away much of the story because the best part is reading it and going OMG what happens next no don’t tell me ahhhh I wasn’t expecting that oh of course but then what oh my gosh, wait, seriously? the entire book. For the record, I’m also not a big fan of tense anxiety-ridden books. My mom is the same way, and she asked if The Martian was too intense, in a way that seeing Gravity (the movie) probably is (I didn’t see Gravity and don’t have any intention of seeing it). I said that yes, it’s tense and thrilling and worrisome, but none of that bothered me as much as maybe it should have. Maybe I should have developed an ulcer from reading the book, or at least a sour stomach, or a headache, or have nightmares, but I didn’t. Because the book is that good that even though I was practically biting my nails the entire time and I couldn’t look away, the tone and voice always comforted me in a way a movie set in the silence of outer space simply can’t possibly do.

I haven’t talked at all about the plot. I said I wouldn’t, because you have to read if for yourself, but it’s probably worth it to mention that The Martian is about astronaut Mark Watney who is on a mission to Mars with several other astronauts. Something goes wrong and they all evacuate the planet immediately, however, Mark gets left behind. He is alone on a barren wasteland of a planet, the only living being, light years away from Earth, with absolutely no hope of leaving and no way to contact anyone else. He’s been left for dead because his crew thinks he died in the shuffle to get off planet. The thing is: he didn’t die. And now he has to survive.

So now I leave you with this: if anything I just said peaks your interest even a little bit, get your hands on this book. Please. Now. Then read it and come back here and talk to me about it, because I’m just burning to talk about it with somebody.

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