Why The Martian by Andy Weir is Not Just for Sci-fi Fans: Book Review

Science FictionMartian, Andy Weir, Mars, fiction
Released February, 2014
385 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased

Plot Summary

When astronaut Mark Watney is left behind on Mars during a massive dust storm (without any means of communication with Earth), he must figure out how to beat the odds against his survival.

My Thoughts

The Martian is not a book I would normally pick up, as I’m decidedly not interested in science fiction. I actually think this is the first science fiction book I’ve ever read. But, the number of glowing reviews that mentioned that the book appeals to people other than science nerds and is actually funny convinced me to give it a shot. I loved The Martian and it’s going on my Best Books of 2014 List (coming out December 16).

Weir kept me enthralled despite my lack of interest in science or space travel…
One of the biggest compliments I can give an author is when he or she manages to get me enthralled in a book about a topic that I could care less about. Tom Wolfe did it with The Right Stuff (also, ironically, about space travel). James Daniel Brown did it with The Boys in the Boat (about competitive rowing). Well, add Andy Weir to the list. The Martian was a bit heavy on science in the beginning. And, even by the end of the book, I still didn’t understand what half the science and space terms meant. But, Mark Watney’s shining personality really helped me overcome this hiccup.

Mark is funny, optimistic, sarcastic, and an astoundingly resourceful badass…
The character of Mark really carried this book. He’s so likable that I’d want to grab a beer with him.

I got my undergrad degree at the University of Chicago. Half the people who studied botany were hippies who thought they could return to some natural world system. Somehow feeding seven billion people through pure gathering. They spent most of their time working out better ways to grow pot. I didn’t like them. I’ve always been in it for the science, not for any New World Order bullshit.

Remember those old math questions you had in algebra class? Where water is entering a container at a certain rate and leaving at a different rate and you need to figure out when it’ll be empty? Well, that concept is critical to the “Mark Watney doesn’t die” project I’m working on.

I haven’t rooted so hard for a character in a long time…
As Mark achieved even the tiniest accomplishment in his fight for survival, I found myself internally cheering. It was like when Tom Hanks found Wilson in “Castaway”. Weir included segments about Earth’s media fascination with this story and the general public following Mark’s every move via satellite images and daily news updates, which helped generate this feeling. It was a bit like “The Hunger Games”…will Mark survive? The world is watching! I got completely swept up in it.

Mark provides hilarious commentary on the ridiculousness of government bureaucracy…
Mark is up on Mars showing the ingenuity of a resourceful individual on an hourly basis and is often frustrated by NASA’s bureaucratic response to his issues. He also makes them look like huge weenies.

Wonder what NASA would think about me fucking with the RTG [a highly radioactive device] like this. They’d probably hide under their desks and cuddle with their slide rules for comfort.

To them [NASA], equipment failure is terrifying. To me, it’s “Tuesday.”

I do wish there had been an Epilogue, as there were some things I would have liked to see play out a bit further. But, overall, The Martian deserves gold stars for actually making me like a Science Fiction book and is going on my Books for Guys List and my upcoming Holiday Gift Guide (coming on Cyber Monday).

You May Also Like:
One Second After by William R. Forstchen
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

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  1. Interesting . . . I haven’t really felt compelled to pick this one up because, like you, I don’t read science fiction. But you make a good case for it! It does sound like a great “book for guys!”

    Posted 11.29.14 Reply
  2. susan wrote:

    Yeah I liked it quite a bit too, but thought that the technical details got excessive at times. I think a good movie could be made from it. Here’s my review of it at http://www.thecuecard.com/books/the-martian/

    Posted 12.4.14 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      I agree on the details, but just when I started to get frustrated, Weir switched gears to something a bit less scientific.

      Posted 12.4.14 Reply
  3. Good review! I also really enjoyed the book for all of those reasons. I’m not strong in science, so most of his tech speak went way over my head, but I still felt a surge of joy every time he survived to see another day!

    Posted 4.27.15 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      It went way over my head too, especially in the beginning! And, I don’t think I’ve rooted so hard for a book character in a long time!

      Posted 4.27.15 Reply
  4. Hahahaha I’d forgotten about all Watney’s commentary about what NASA would think of his breaking protocol. That quote is a GEM. Thanks for linking up with the Fellowship of the Worms! 🙂

    Posted 4.28.15 Reply
    • admin wrote:

      Ha – he had a bunch of gems I feel like! But, that theme was one of my favorite parts about the book. Thanks for hosting!

      Posted 4.28.15 Reply

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