Release Date: February 11th 2014
Genre(s): Science Fiction
Purchase: The Book Depository | Amazon
❝ 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? ❞
What I really liked about this book was the setting. Though I’ve read my fair share of science fiction and am a bit of a nerd, I haven’t read a lot of books about space. It was really refreshing to have a story take place on Mars. Moreover, the book features so many detailed descriptions, that I could envision Mars and The Hub in my mind easily. I learned a lot about astronauts and spacecraft in the process.
That said, the descriptions did get boring pretty quickly. Soon, they started to feel more and more like info dumps. Even though I appreciate the extensive amount of research the author did to make the story more accurate, a lot of descriptions about technical stuff could have easily been left out. I would have gotten through the book a lot faster if that had been the case.
Another thing I loved about the book, was the plot. The survival-aspect of the story was thrilling, especially since survival in space is so different from survival on Earth. In addition, the story did not only focus on the protagonist, but also on NASA and the Hermes crew.
I had really mixed feelings about the protagonist, Mark Watney. On the one hand, I marveled at his resourcefulness and creativity. I also thought he was pretty funny at first. However, some of the jokes became forced and unnatural after a while. The entire book I was (albeit unconsciously) waiting for the protagonist to have some sort of breakdown, which one would expect given his situation, but that never came. He remained optimistic and sarcastic, never crying or showing fear. In my opinion, the author missed out on an opportunity there because apart from all the technical stuff, psychology always plays a big part in survival.
Despite its flaws, the book is still a very realistic read with lots of things to keep you occupied. I for one can’t wait to see the movie adaptation!