Book #9: E.T. phone home

Fast facts:

Book title: “The Martian”

Author: Andy Weir

Genre/Audience: Science fiction; adult

Rating: 10/10

Worth the read?: Without a doubt, for sure, heck yes!

A few weeks ago, I ran into a former classmate who works in the library. We were catching up on life when it occurred to me to ask him if he had any book recommendations. “The Martian” was his pick.

I took it, checked out and held it the whole walk back to my apartment, thinking about how he said he’d been unable to put it down. I had my doubts, mostly because science fiction is really hit-or-miss. It’s either really good or really, really bad.

Luckily for me, “The Martian” falls into the former.

When rating this book, I questioned if I was handing out perfect 10s too often. But this book seriously felt like a solid, hearty 10. Then it occurred to me: ain’t nobody stopping me from being the Paula Abdul of this book list! After all, why should I be reading books that aren’t 10s in my year-long journey toward 50 books?

So, as I said before, I was skeptical about if I’d actually enjoy “The Martian.” I put off reading it for about a week, until last weekend when I was home alone and couldn’t make up my mind about what book to choose next. I felt guilty about not having started the book yet, so I dug in.

I did nothing but read that evening and the next morning, and then, just like that, it was my fastest read of the year. I couldn’t put it down!

Andy Weir writes cleverly and knowledgeably; although I’m no physicist, chemist, engineer, astronaut, or NASA director, I believed pretty much every bit of science-y stuff he threw down. I’ve since read some articles that indicate almost everything he wrote was possible.

The main character, Mark Watney, is hilarious. I laughed out loud—a good, old-fashioned LOL—multiple times. Occasionally, I had to stop reading to take in the best of the witty jokes. I really jived with the humor sprinkled throughout. I fear that without Watney’s constant joking the book would have been depressing. I mean, a man stuck alone on Mars for a year and a half? Talk about lonely.

The book is written episodically, and although the chapters vary in length, the sections within each chapter are short and easy to digest. I got lost a time or two trying to keep up with the heavy scientific language, but glossing over it didn’t harm my reading. I have a hard time with long, drawn out chapters, and it makes me giddy to read a book that doesn’t feel like it’s taking forever to get through.

An unusual but necessary narrative decision by the author is the inclusion of perspective from Earth, specifically from NASA, throughout Watney’s time on Mars. Without this information, the plot couldn’t move forward and the reader would have no way to understand how anything is happening. My only real criticism of the book is that the introduction of the Earth perspective is abrupt, and it doesn’t happen as early as it probably should.

Most surprisingly, I cried at the end of the book. I was simultaneously laughing at how ridiculous I felt. Who cries at the end of a rough and tough sci-fi novel? Me! The book ends with a touching scene that feels both triumphant and melancholy. It hit me right in the feelings.

Also, for what it’s worth, I paid $3.99 to rent the HD version of the movie the next day. It was pretty good, with only a few creative liberties that diverged from the book. Although the visuals were really cool, I definitely preferred the book. Still, all around, it was good!

Another post coming at you soon! In the meantime, follow me on Twitter and Instagram!