What a fantastic, entertaining novel. Do not expect literary nuggets, but if you’re in for an emotional planetary ride, this is your book. I was always at the edge of my seat and found myself laughing out loud more than once. The geek in me is pleased and my interest in sci-fi is deepened.
We experience Watney’s tale through first person ship logs . When we are with his shipmates and the people at mission control on earth, however, narration slips into third person mode. I like this mix of narration styles. We learn through Watney’s own words how he takes on the challenges and get to witness him ace survival tests that would put anyone stuck in a regular earthly jungle with no food and no tools to shame. His juvenile humor provides us with a glimpse of a charming fighter smart enough to outwit the universe, but humble enough to know that each moment might be his last. Through meticulously described technical details, the author manages to convince me of Watney’s expertise in science and engineering. Some of it was dense for a laymen like me, but it added authenticity to the tale. It all seems plausible. Watney’s knowledge saves him numerous times against the ticking clock. And clocks there are, for all good thrillers need them.
Andy Weir does something that few books and films manage to do. He skillfully marries two genres. This nail biting sci-fi thriller communicate humor into the most dire of challenges. Weir knows that humor cures. That it gives strength. That it distracts and that it releases fear. This is how many of us deal with adversity.
I love the fact that The Martian went from a book no one wanted to publish to a becoming the blueprint for the blockbuster movie of the same name. Andy Weir worked hard on something he was passionate about with no hope for a pay off. Like his protagonist, he didn’t give up and walked his path regardless of the dim prospects of survival. Kudos to him. He has conquered the publishing world by storm and that is an impressive feat in itself. If I know anything about writing, it’s that it can often times feel as though you’re the only person on the planet.
Originally published at The Pen and Camera.