WOW. This book was incredible! If I were asked to describe the book, I would say that it had a Michael Crichton storyline, a dash of Stephen King suspense, and a ton of sarcasm and humor. So clearly this book was 100% in my wheelhouse!
The Martian by Andy Weir
The book is about a man named Mark Watney, an engineer/botanist astronaut who is left behind on Mars after a freak accident. Because of a very unfortunate series of events, (a sandstorm, horrible visibility, and a hit to some critical features on his suit) Watney's crew believes that he was killed, and were forced to leave without checking his body. But of course, Watney was still alive. When he regains consciousness after the accident, he immediately starts trying to figure out a way to survive. The odds against him are huge, but by keeping a level head, Watney is able to solve many problems that are thrown his way.
To put the suspense into perspective, check out this passage:
"So that’s the situation. I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last 31 days.
If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.
So yeah. I’m fucked."
I absolutely loved how this book was written and organized; it was such a fun suspenseful read rather than an anxiety filled one. For the main portion of the book, we are reading nerdy journal entries from Watney. I loved the tone; the mix of humor and science was perfect. Even if you aren't a science buff (which I am not), the way that everything is presented made it very enjoyable.
I also really appreciated that we had various a bursts of the storyline from the crew's perspective as well as from people at the NASA headquarters in Texas. I felt that these bits really gave the story more depth.
I will admit that during the heavy science filled bits, I felt like the pacing slowed slightly. But I think that is only because Science isn't my strongest subject, so I really took my time reading through these bits to make sure I was following. Some of the science was definitely over my head, but I don't feel that it took away from the story at all.
My favorite passages:
It was a ridiculous sequence of events that led me to almost dying, and an even more ridiculous sequence that led to me surviving.
Godspeed, little taters. My life depends on you.
He turned back to Venkat. "I wonder what he's thinking right now."
LOG ENTRY: SOL 61
How come Aquaman can control whales? They're manuals! Makes no sense.
I guess you could call it a "failure," but I prefer the term "learning experience."
I told NASA what I did. Our (paraphrased) conversation was:
Me: “I took it apart, found the problem, and fixed it.”
Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.
I got bounced around a lot, but I'm a well-honed machine in times of crisis. As soon as the rover toppled, I curled into a ball and cowered. That's the kind of action hero I am.
It worked, too. 'Cause I'm not hurt.
I can't wait till I have grandchildren. “When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!
"I admit it's fatally dangerous," Watney said. "But consider this: I'd get to fly around like Iron Man."
"We'll keep working on ideas," Lewis said.
"Iron Man, Commander. Iron Man."