Before I begin, let me tell you how grand it is to finally be updating my blog. Junior year is kicking my ass. Ah, how I long for the days of high school and free time… Not really, I wouldn’t trade college for anything. I love it and I’ve been staying incredibly busy with not only academics but fun stuff as well. Maybe sometime I’ll update you guys, but for now, here is my long-due review of this novel.
I’m pretty much fucked.
So Matt Damon is stuck on Mars. No, wait, sorry — astronaut Mark Watney is stuck on Mars. A violent dust storm forces Mark and crew to abandon their mission and evacuate the planet early. During their escape, a large piece of debris slams into Watney and knocks him unconscious. Unable to find him in the storm, and believing him to be dead, the Ares 3 crew leaves Watney behind and begins their long journey home. Spoiler alert (but not really, because this is the point of the novel): Watney’s alive. Using his extreme knowledge of botany and engineering, he must find a way to survive the harsh, barren environment until the next Ares mission returns to Mars in four years, or find a way to communicate with NASA and construct a rescue plan. Piece of cake, right?
First of all, the concept of this novel is absolutely terrifying. If I woke up half-dead and completely alone on Mars, light years away from civilization, I would probably have a massive anxiety attack and die. Mark Watney, on the other hand, has to deal with so much shit and rarely freaks out over it, which is why I loved his character so much. He’s strong, intelligent, brave, and witty as fuck (seriously, if this book doesn’t make you laugh, you need to develop a sense of humor).
The Martian is sort of like an epistolary novel; though there are chapters, each section of the chapter is a log entry on different SOLs. SOLs refer to the duration of a solar day on Mars. A SOL is approximately 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35.244 seconds. The novel is science-fiction, but it’s real sci-fi — much of the novel discusses the mathematical and scientific calculations in detail. As an English major, I am not a fan of math and science, but I can honestly say I was never bored reading this novel.
Throughout the whole novel, I was conflicted between “I really hope Mark dies because it will be heartbreaking and world-shattering and a perfect ending” and “Please please please please please let him live please please oh god please don’t let him die please if he dies I will cry for a million years”. So yeah. The more I read, though, the more I wanted him to live. I know it’s fiction, but this guy goes though so much shit and handles it so incredibly well and he’s just so fucking smart you can’t help but root for him. So here I am, 30 pages left, and all I can think is: Why is the story told in logs? Are the logs the only thing left to tell the story? So I immediately fall into panic and for the last 30 pages I swear the entire campus can hear my heart beating because I so desperately wanted Watney to live. And I won’t spoil it for you because I want you to experience this same panic.
Andy Weir did a fantastic job with this novel and I hope he continues writing. I never would have picked up the novel if it weren’t for the trailer I saw on TV, so I’m really grateful that they decided to make a film adaptation (which, yes, I finally saw and will try to post a review of that later). Since I saw the trailer before even hearing about the novel, I pictured Watney as Matt Damon through the entire thing… After reading it, though, I have to say Matt Damon was a perfect choice. So anyway, whether you’ve seen the film already or not, you should definitely check out the novel because it contains so much more information than a film could ever depict. And even if you already know the outcome of the story, I guarantee it will still captivate you from beginning to end.
Favorite Quote(s): “The worst moments in life are heralded by small observations. The tiny lump on your side that wasn’t there before. Coming home to your wife and seeing two wineglasses in the sink. Anytime you hear “We interrupt this program…”
“Just once I’d like something to go as planned, ya know?”