Review: The Martian



*Spoilers below*

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 and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, Mark 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’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.

But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.


This book was assigned to me as part of my reading list for my Ecotopian Dreaming class (English 319). I’ve seen it appear on a couple different bookstagrams, but it never really stayed on my radar to track down and read. After reading it I understand why.

Mark Watney, while a likable protagonist, was consistently optimistic and chipper. After about 100 pages his upbeat banter with the reader got annoying.  The entire experience made him come off as something other than human, something very much Martian. While the English major in me adores the idea of being on another planet altering someone’s humanity I do not see the everyday reader seeing his discontent from normalcy as something so otherworldly. I understand being disconnected, Watney spends a little over a year on Mars by himself. But his logs read like some peppy school boy’s diary entries.

Another aspect I didn’t like about The Martian was the way the author, Andy Weir, switched from POVs. For the first forth of the book the narrative is told exclusively through Watney’s Sol Logs. The story then shifts dramatically back to Earth, following members of NASA while they attempt to find out what happened to the landing party going to Mars. The rest of the novel follows this theme, with no real pattern. It switches from the Sol Logs to NASA to Chinese government officials having a discussion, to the Mars landing party, even featuring Watney’s family at one point. There are lot of people and shifts to keep track of. On top of that there is a considerable amount of terminology that wouldn’t be recognizable to the uneducated reader. (Ex. The Hab, EVA, MAV, MDV, Sol, RTG, ect.) Some of these are explained in the book, but dropping a lot of new terms doesn’t do well for reader elasticity.

I didn’t hate The Martian by any means. (Although I did spend 3/4ths the book wanting it to be over. There is only so much of Mars I could take.) The concept was quite interesting, although I felt the execution left something to be desired. It isn’t a book I would reread, or possible recommend unless I knew it was something that would interest the individual.


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