Monday, December 29, 2014

Book Review for The Martian by Andy Weir

You can find this book on Amazon HERE

  • Paperback: 387 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (October 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553418025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553418026
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6,239 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • "Remember Man Plus, Frederik Pohl’s award-winning 1976 novel about a cyborg astronaut who’s sent, alone, to Mars? Imagine, instead, that the astronaut was just a regular guy, part of a team sent to the red planet, and that, through a series of tragic events, he’s left behind, stranded and facing certain death. That’s the premise of this gripping and (given its subject matter) startlingly plausible novel. The story is told mostly through the log entries of astronaut Mark Watney, chronicling his efforts to survive: making the prefab habitat livable and finding a way to grow food, make water, and get himself off the planet. Interspersed among the log entries are sections told from the point of view of the NASA specialists, back on Earth, who discover that Watney is not dead (as everyone assumed) and scramble together a rescue plan. There are some inevitable similarities between the book and the 1964 movie Robinson Crusoe on Mars, but where the movie was a broad sci-fi adventure, the novel is a tightly constructed and completely believable story of a man’s ingenuity and strength in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Riveting". --David Pitt --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

I honestly can't recall who recommended this book to me. I am sure it was someone that works with me here at NASA. Whoever it was, was browsing my book selection in my office and noted that I had several works from Ben Bova, such as "Mars" and "Return to Mars." They gave me the idea to look up this book. 

I did some research, and the NUMBER ONE THING to know is...don't buy "The Review Summary." It is NOT the book you are looking for. 

One of the top ideas I have for a future literary work involves a Robinson Crusoe-type adventure to another planet. I'd be a liar if my idea wasn't almost EXACTLY what Weir has laid down in print. He starts with a creative NASA mechanical engineer with a crude sense of humor and a powerful will to survive. Sound familiar? Yep. Just like me. 

Though Weir isn't involved in space travel, he has a pretty solid command of how things work, and it is demonstrated in the knowledge of the technology and solutions that would be used in future NASA missions to other planets. 

This book had a very good pace with little to no down time. Watney was constantly being challenged in order to survive. What I really liked about this book was how each challenge was laid out so that the reader understood both the problem and the solution. That brings me to the drawback of this work. Watney's life is a day-after-day struggle, where he is presented with catastrophe. While his survival is well explained and detailed, reality is that an astronaut will never survive such a series of events. Even some of the solutions are sketchy, at best. In particular, the rendering of hydrazine for it's water content is borderline lunacy. Additionally, the final solution to save Watney was far-fetched. However, it was very entertaining. 

From a reader's perspective, I did not like the random 3rd person narrative point of view that cropped up whenever Watney was about to experience something catastrophic, such as having an airlock explode. Though using Watney as the sole narrator would have been difficult, it would have been more seamless. Additionally, the cutaways to his coworkers could have been eliminated. However, I do understated that this book was very short and much of this was used to thicken work, though I don't think it added any value. While Watney came off as a corny individual, it went overboard at parts. Some of the one-liners and expletives were over the top and unneeded. 

Overall, the book was very entertaining and painted a very real picture of what survival in the most hostel of environments would be like. For the most part, it was realistic. The problems and solutions were well explained and done so in an entertaining way. The book was far from perfect, but was a very good read. I give it 3.5 out of 5 Stars