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I’m not sure what initially drew me to “The Martian” but it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for a little while, not as long as some, and certainly not the newest book of the lot. I thought it was time to read it as I had seen that it was part of a Book Club on Instagram and wanted to find out what it was all about.

Synopsis:

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?

I have a lot of science fiction books. I also seem to have a lot of books about/regarding/involving Martians. Science Fiction seems to be the genre of choice on my bookshelf it has to be said, whether classic or modern.

I am so glad that I took the time out to read Andy Weir’s “The Martian”. I’ve read a few books this year, and whilst I have enjoyed them, it would seem that this particular book managed to grip me in a way that I haven’t felt with a book for a long time. In fact… the last time I felt this into a book was probably “Ready Player One”, and if I recall correctly, that was quite some time ago. That’s not to say that I haven’t been engaged in other books that I’ve read, it’s just sometimes it takes a book like this one to make you realise how awesome some books can be.

We meet Mark Watney, stranded on Mars, presumed dead. He isn’t, and now he’s got to survive. Survive on hope that he can be rescued in 4 years time, that the next Mars landing will be able to take him home, and that he won’t in the mean time die from lack of oxygen, food, or some other catastrophe.

Mark gets a lot of bad luck thrown his way, but through it all remains mildly optimistic that he can do everything that he can to survive and get out the other end. At first I thought it was a bit ridiculous the amount of stuff that went wrong, but I think that in the long run this probably benefited Mark as it gave him tasks to focus on rather than the utter loneliness and silence of the red planet.

I cheered along as contact with NASA was re-established, and loved how other elements came into play in the story telling, evolving from the blog/log entries made by Mark, through to the characters of NASA and their roles in helping Mark survive. And then the additional little stories of the equipment, like the woven fabric/material that ended up exploding about half way through, or the bolt in the failed launch of supplies to Mars. These little stories, components felt like characters in their own right.

Apparently some people were offended at the use of swear words in this novel; I had no problem at all with this aspect of the novel at all. In fact, it helped connect to the character. We are all human, I’m fairly certain we all swear/curse I think if I were in the same situation as this character then I would have been doing it a lot more to be honest.

For some reason when reading through the log entries it felt like it took the longest time to get to about 200 sols, then the rest of the book picked up pace and suddenly we were at the thrilling conclusion.

Ultimately there were only two ways that this was going to end: rescue or death. I’m not going to spoil for you if you haven’t read, but I’m glad it ended how it did.

This book has definitely made me want to check out other novels by this author, and have duly followed him on GoodReads to see what else he has written as his is a name that I haven’t heard before.

I rated this book 5/5 on GoodReads. I hope you manage to take the time to discover this book for yourself, it’s a thrilling ride, and perhaps not at all what you would expect from a book about the Earth’s burgeoning exploration into space.

Have you read this? What did you think? Next up for me is part one in “A Dance of Dragons”.

Kialtho

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