Thursday, 26 May 2016

Book Review- The Martian

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Pages: 369
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fiction, 

Rating: 4.5/5

A mission to Mars.A freak accident.One man's struggle to survive.
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.
Grounded in real, present-day science from the first page to the last, yet propelled by a brilliantly ingenious plot that surprises the reader again and again, The Martian is a truly remarkable thriller: an impossible-to-put-down suspense novel that manages to read like a real-life survival tale. -Goodreads

I went to see the movie The Martian with my flatmate last year, and I didn't even realise it was based on a book until after I returned from the movie theatre. As soon as I saw the movie I knew I needed to read the book as soon as possible.
On a side note- the movie is amazing, even if you haven't read the novel I definitely recommend seeing the movie, its a hilarious and action packed movie, I jumped once or twice too!!
Another story about this novel is that I took absolutely ages to actually buy it as I was determined not to get a book with the movie cover that had Matt Damon's face on it. I have a weird thing about not buying the movie covers of books, and so I looked in loads of book shops before I just happened to come across a non-movie cover. That's the reason that it has taken me such a long time to read the book, it took me a long time to actually buy the book too!!
The main thing I would say about this novel is that it is hilarious, the main character Mark Watney who's point of view we follow throughout most of the novel, is very sarcastic, and this sarcasm and sharp wit comes across very well in the novel, its very funny! 
This novel is written in the past tense, which means that a large proportion of the novel is told to you through diary-like day recaps from Watney on Mars. This means you don't really "live" the action as such, and I wondered how this would work in the novel. It wasn't a problem at all, the novel was still exciting and tense even with this style of narrative.
The novel also uses 3rd person narrative to describe situations immediately before the "big" problems and action moments Watney faced, and I think this also worked well, you experienced the immediacy of the situation, and felt a sense of danger and worry for Watney and his situation!!
I also enjoyed the chapters of the novel which were set back on Earth following NASA as they tried to help Watney survive, and the chapters that followed the rest of Watney's crew back on Hermes. I thought these narratives really helped the story flow, it meant you were not just reading Watney's diary the whole time, which made his voice more distinctive and more enjoyable when you did read it. It also gave a fuller understanding of the bigger picture, of what was happening in the rest of Earth, and how others important to the story were coping and helping Watney. It also left me in the horrible position of knowing things that some of the characters didn't, which is so frustrating but makes for a very tense and nerve-wracking read!!
I also enjoyed the characters in this novel. The characters in the crew on Hermes were very interesting, and I really enjoyed learning more about them through the small insights we were given through the novel. I loved how different and developed Weir made all the characters in the novel, there were only a few females in the novel (perhaps a few more would've been nice, but he made the Commander of the Hermes a female, so I can't really complain!!) but they were all very different and well rounded which is definitely to Weir's credit.
The only element of the novel which meant I docked half a star from the rating was the large amount of scientific jargon and explanations that just went completely over my head. A lot of the science that kept Watney alive, and that he went into great detail to explain was incomprehensible to me, and although it didn't detract from the actual story, it was a little overwhelming so the novel didn't get 5 stars because of that!
Overall however, this is a very funny book, which is action and packed and quick to read, and I definitely recommend it, even if you're not interested in space and sci-fi, its a great read about human strength and adaptability. Also check out the movie if you haven't, it's really good!!!

Happy reading!!

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