Book Review by Douglas Soule: Interplanetary Awesomeness; My Review of "The Martian"
By Douglas Soule on October 16, 2015 from Book Review
Don’t judge a book by its genre. When I first heard about the rising popularity of a Mars-based science fiction novel called The Martian, the first published book by Andy Weir, my mind grasped upon the preconceived notion of a book containing green creatures with elongated joint-less fingers, flying across red, arid terrain in dish-shaped aircrafts. This belief was a farther off trajectory than a spaceship with a miscalculation in orbital mechanics (this prior sentence is supposed to sound sciency, though I don’t understand space-science any more than I understand women. I hope I don’t sound too stupid.) Long story short, I was wrong. In fact, the only alien in this story was the main man himself, a character named Mark who is a (maybe) permanent guest on the planet Mars.
, unlike me, is very knowledgeable in the areas relating to science and other-- more extensive--names relating to astronomical science. He was one of a six-member crew sent to peruse the surface of Mars, and was chosen for his skills in botany and mechanical engineering. These talents saved his life, after the wrath of the foreign planet attempted to take it. When a sandstorm attacked the crew on an investigative outing to inspect surrounding geographical elements (rocks), Mark was left behind, thought dead, after an antenna from a nearby communication dish impaled him in his side.
Ever wonder what it’s like to be abandoned on Mars? Me either. Yet nevertheless, I found myself so engaged by this story that I didn’t notice my aching hands, weary from holding the book too long. When I develop tendonitis, I’ll be sending the medical costs down to Andy Weir; he’ll be making more than enough money to pay the bill, with the movie based on his book already in theaters.
With a humor dryer than the Martian landscape, and passages more chilling than Martian air (Mars is actually freezing cold, in spite of its wild-west appearance), Andy Weir crafts a story that maintained my attention.. Until I finished reading it, this book was more important to me than oxygen was to Mark. Well, not really, but this story was definitely a constant presence in the forefront of my mind. While reading, my emotions changed in rapid succession. On one page, I would be rigid with anxiety and fear, bludgeoned with the severity of possible outcomes. On another, I’d be laughing hard enough to cramp my side, causing a pain like that of being stabbed with a wind-propelled antenna. This concoction of humor and suspense creates a plot that, with each twist, caught me unexpected. More than once I wanted to hurl the book at a wall, and more than once I wanted to cradle it below a face (figuratively) weeping with joy.
Through the perspective of Mark , we learn how he survives forced detainment on Mars, a planet 140 million miles from Earth (thank you, Wikipedia). The way he does this--at least at the beginning--is surprisingly mundane. Mundane compared to being trapped on Mars standards. I won’t delve too thoroughly into details, but let’s just say Mark significantly prolongs his life with potatoes, defecation, and the burning of hydrazine to contrive water. Simple enough, right? At least, it would be simple (simple compared to being trapped on Mars standards) if wasn’t faced with a domino effect of failures, from self-caused explosions to environment-wrought destruction.
I won’t lie; this book might have adverse effects upon the reader. You’ll never want to go to Mars again. Any plans will be wiped off your calendar forever. Reading The Martian, I couldn’t be more glad to be lying immobile on my couch, shoulders slumped with perpetual laziness. For at least I’m alive, or even better, not trapped on Mars. Seriously, there’s no internet on Mars. How would I ever keep track of all the presidential candidates?
The Martian was a wild ride from start to finish. Literally a wild ride, in some parts. Despite occasional sections that to me felt overburdened with descriptions of technologic configuration and scientific elements, they were all necessary for plot advancement, and were actually quite interesting. All in all, this story flowed smoother than a rover over flat terrain. I urge all audiences mature enough to handle considerable profanity to read it, especially with the movie now showing.