I’ll put it right out there at the start of this review: I love science fiction. Call me geeky if you must, but here’s the deal, while The Martian, by Andy Weir may be technically categorized as science fiction, it’s really ‘science that could maybe happen someday’ and that, along with Weir’s incredible ability to make what could have been a very dry, science geek sort of read into a compelling and even humorous page turner is what makes this book one heck of a great read.
By a very unfortunate turn of events, Mark Watney finds himself alone and abandoned on Mars. It’s a long time until help could arrive, and that presumes that NASA knows he’s there and in need of help, which they don’t. Oh, and he doesn’t have enough food to last that long anyway, which leads to one of the most attention grabbing first lines I’ve read in a while, “I’m pretty much fucked.”
But don’t let that fool you, Watney is one smart and practical guy. He’s the MacGyver of Mars. If he wants to be rescued he needs to find a way to let NASA know he’s alive and he needs to figure out how to stay that way.
For those of you who took AP Science Everything in high school, you may relish some of the finer details of each step and process as he works toward that goal. For those, like me, who spent more time in Humanities and English Lit, fear not! Weir has done an awesome job of making both kinds of readers follow happily along, explaining just enough of the science to make us appreciate the challenges, celebrate the successes and kick ourselves that we didn’t see the disasters coming, just as our hero does.
Will science save the day? Will Mark Watney survive? You won’t just want to know, you’ll need to know and that’s why you’ll turn the page. Once you get to the end (and I’m not telling you anymore, you’ll have to find out for yourself!) be sure to go a little further and read Weir’s letter about why and how he wrote this book. He is a geek, the kind of guy who wrote this for fun and put it out there to share with just a few until everyone else found out about it and it became an award winning, best seller and Matt Damon vehicle.
I’m looking forward to seeing the movie. Damon seems perfectly cast to me, in my mind his voice and Watney’s are one in the same. But movie and science aside, The Martian will go down as one of the best adventures I’ve ever been on.