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Six days into the Ares 3 mission to Mars, a dust storm causes the crew to evacuate the planet. After suffering a catastrophic injury during the storm astronaut Mark Watney, the team's engineer and botanist gets left behind, since the rest of his crew believes he's dead. When Mark comes to he realizes that he's been stranded on Mars with no way to get a message to his crew or back to Earth. Even if he could send word, his supplies would run out long before rescue could ever hope to arrive. Chances are he wouldn't even have the chance to starve to death because the damaged machinery, the brutal environment, and human error will probably kill him first. But Mark isn't going to give up that easily. He's going to put his engineering and botany skills, ingenuity, and a relentless refusal to quit to the test - he plans on surviving the impossible odds until Ares 4 arrives. Will his abilities and resourcefulness get him through this, or will Mars take its toll on him physically and mentally.
I was so excited when my book club chose this as our April read and of all the books we've read it has been my favorite. I love a good survival story, especially one paired with (entirely plausible) sci-fi and this one really works. My favorite aspect of this novel is Watney himself. It's not quite a one man show, but it does come pretty close and Watney successfully carries the story. If he weren't such a likable character, or so funny, a character that I wanted to succeed and make it off Mars, this story would fall flat because so much rides on him, and let's face it it would probably be really depressing without him. Luckily for me, he's a brilliant and hilarious character to follow for the majority of the novel.
My second favorite aspect is the format of the novel. For the most part, it's told via Watney's daily log entries as he walks us through what he's been doing, and what's tried to kill him most recently. I was surprised when we got a look at what's going on back at NASA, and his crew, once they discover he's still alive, but it's a welcome addition. That aspect adds a rich new layer to the storytelling.
There are so many more things I could talk about when it comes to this book, like all of the things that go miraculously right, all of the things that try to kill him, and the daunting escape, but you should really go read this for yourself if you already haven't. It comes highly recommended from me! If you like Gravity, Apollo 13, and Castaway, chances are you will love Andy Weir's The Martian. The Martian is definitely going down as one of my favorite reads of 2015. And, I will be counting down the days until the movie adaptation is released on November 25th.
-“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
-“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” 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 mammals! Makes no sense.”
-“As with most of life's problems, this one can be solved by a box of pure radiation.”
-“I tested the brackets by hitting them with rocks. This kind of sophistication is what we interplanetary scientists are known for.”
-“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 read this novel from March 20 - 25, 2015 and my review is also available on Goodreads.