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Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir (4/5)

24 Aug

When I hear things like ‘Science Fiction for the person who doesn’t like science fiction,’ I’m always skeptical. I usually think it’s way too science-y and hate it. But for once, the rumors were believable. This book is one with universal appeal and its 100% due to the amazing voice of Mark that Weir writes. This book will appeal to anyone who has been sarcastic for even one second of their life.

MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir

Summary from Goodreads:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Wow. I was not prepared for how much I would like this book. I’m not someone who enjoys space books and every time I try one, I’m always underwhelmed and over annoyed. But my husband and I were driving to New York and I thought this is one we would both enjoy. We loved it. I can’t wait for the movie. Matt Damon will be amazing in the role, I’m sure. In summary, there are not enough good things for me to say about this one.

Mark is amazing. His strong voice makes the character jump off the page. Writing a voice like that is hard (I’ve tried!) and Weir pulls it off beautifully. Mark is smart, but he reacts to adversity the way most of us would, by cursing loudly and shaking a fist at the creator before figuring out how to survive. He’s likable and scrappy. In short, the perfect hero.

If anyone said their favorite character was someone besides Watney, they’re lying to you. Though, Venkat is a close second for me. I liked his dedication and love from Earth. But really, it’s all Watney.

But secret here; I’ve never been stranded on Mars. But I could relate to Watney. I’ve been stuck in situations where I had to figure things out and I was challenged. Times when I’ve struggled to think of something and the thing I think of might seem stupid for a second, but I know it is the only option and in the end, I’m surprised at my success. I think everyone’s felt that way. I think everyone has a little Watney in them.

Andy Weir Image via The Washington Post

Andy Weir
Image via The Washington Post

The rescue was amazing. It had me sitting in my car for ten minutes after I was home trying to convince myself I didn’t have to pee. I was so hooked and I had invested 9 hours in Watney already. I had to know how it was going to end. I don’t want to spoil it, but it will make an amazing climax to the movie.

I can’t think of a point in the book I disliked or thought dragged. It was a really incredible pacing job. Every time we talked to Mark, he had something different to report on and I was always interested. Hats off to Weir!

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by R.C. Bray. I thought he did a great job. He got the sarcasm of Watney right and brought a lot of character to the other speakers. If this had been a bad narration, the whole book would have been a huge drag, but Bray did a great job. It’s a lot of first person narration and I loved listening to it.

Watney never gave up. There were so many things that could have stopped him, so many times he could have stopped trying, but he never did. He was persistent and kept trying and made me want to cheer for him. I loved it. The story was about the human spirit and how far we as a human race will go to protect another person. I’m getting all mushy, but this book deserves it!

Writer’s Takeaway: Let’s talk about voice and first person narration. Weir’s book is my new favorite example. Mark is a character down to his word choice and reactions. His personality is so engrained into the book that you can’t escape it. It’s wonderful. It’s internal dialog they way we all think. I’m going to try to copy this from now on.

A great book. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

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