Book Review: The Martian

The Martian
Narrated By: R.C. Bray
Published By: Podium Publishing
Publication Date: March 22, 2013
Audio Length: 10 hours, 53 minutes
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Adult - Science Fiction

I listened to The Martian a while ago, but I wanted to review it now because the movie is coming out October 2nd. Honestly, if the movie is even half as good as the book, we should all be in line to hand over our money opening weekend. Mark Watney, one of the six-member Ares 3 mission to Mars, is stranded on the red planet, after the team terminated the mission early during a huge storm in which Watney was severely injured and assumed to be dead. Hurt, alone, and without means of communication (the communications array having been destroyed in the storm), Mark must figure out how to let mission control know that he is alive, and find a way to stay that way until he can be rescued by the next manned mission. In four years. Everything about this book is stellar (ha!) from the characters to the plot, from the pacing to the sense of wonder it evokes. 

The book begins simply with Mark’s mission log entries. Weir made a clever choice here that starts the reader off alone with Mark and his experience of being left on Mars, and allows the reader to feel the weight of his predicament. Once Mark has other people involved, the book weaves his mission log entries with what is happening at Mission Control and other locations as they work feverishly to figure out ways to help him. 

 The Martian has a lively cast of characters, but the book would be nothing without main character, Mark Watney, or as I like to think of him, Mr. Everything-you-could-want-in-a-hero. Mark is an astronaut’s astronaut: smart, resourceful, and supremely confident in his training and what he knows. The man knows what he wants, and what he wants is to live! I found myself envying his ability to take his enormous task (survive on Mars for four years) and break it down into discrete, occasionally humorous, steps. Mark’s wry sense of humor provides the perfect amount of levity in a story that might otherwise have been either too depressing or too dry. Personally, I would have been in the corner chewing my hair and having a panic attack. 

Over the course of the book, Mark faces challenge after challenge, some intrinsic to his situation, some that he creates for himself. I was impressed by the amount of thought and research Weir put into coming up with these issues. I also appreciated that Weir allowed Mark to make mistakes. Taking a computer into the near vacuum of the Martian atmosphere? Oops. Forgetting that when you exhale there’s still plenty of oxygen in your breath? Big oops! In spite his extensive training and way better than average coping skills, Mark Watney is very much a fallible human. 

Watching Mark go from being somewhat nervous about going outside the Hab on his first day alone to making a huge trek across Mars was exhilarating. It also spoke to me about how we become accustomed to a certain amount of danger in our lives and that we, as human beings, have the ability to overcome so much more than we think. 

 The Martian made me fall in love with space travel again. Not the warp speed, sci-fi variety, but the honest to goodness, Mars-is-actually-really-far-away space travel that I might eventually see in my own lifetime. Read this book for the science, read this book for the adrenaline, read this book for the wonder that is the human spirit. Just be sure you read (or listen to) this book. 

Caveat: There is a lot of language in this book. I think this is the first book in which I felt this level of swearing was warranted by the situation. (Hello, stranded on Mars!) Guaranteed: I would probably cuss up a storm too. Before I retreated to the corner for the aforementioned hair chewing. ;)

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission 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 get him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?


  1. This was such a great book! Here's a link if you want to visualize the flightpath:

  2. I didn't know that the movie was based on a book
    But now I have been seeing this book everywhere and I am super excited to read it
    Definitely added to my TBR
    YOur reader,
    Soma R.

  3. Is this the one in which the guy uses his own waste to create soil for a garden? My students were talking about the movie. I didn't realize it was based on a book.


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