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.
Sounds brilliant, right? A guy stranded on Mars, all on his own, with nothing but his knowledge to help him survive? The hype was REAL, guys. Everyone started talking about this book at once, especially when the movie was coming out. I did the unthinkable- watched the movie first- and I really, really liked it. So then I finally got the book. Do you want to know what my rating was? 2.5 stars. Wow, right? Well, I was seriously let down, and I’ll tell you why:
First of all, I don’t like being the downer who shits all over a book others love (because let’s face it, no one likes that one person that doesn’t like a brilliant book, and you’re left thinking “what is WRONG with them? This book was dope!”) but I just couldn’t even pretend to like it. There are many things I found wrong with it, so I’ll list them first:
The writing. I’m sorry, but this book SCREAMS “I’ve never written a book before, haven’t trained to become adept at it, but I have a cool idea and knowledge of the scienz so imma go ahead and do it anyway.” Weir, why? The science was spot on, and cool most of the time. But when every page is filled to the brim with detailed mumbo-jumbo of space equipment and survival crap, I get bored. I love sci-fi, but I don’t need to know how exactly Mark separates oxygen and nitrogen, how he disassembles old rovers, fixes radios, de-pressurizes the Hab, and mends his suit on every. single. page. If I wanted to read a 300+ book of pure science jargon I’d go read my old high school physics textbook. Sci-Fi writers understandably have to add the science part to their books, but other authors make an effort to write the science with the story, not have the science center stage with a somewhat-plot thrown in somewhere. It feels like Weir really wanted to show off his mad skillz with the sci techno babble, but wanted to make it cool, so he wrote this book. In fact, I feel like Weir feels himself personified in Watney, as in, he is Watney, and how Watney reacted to his situations is how Weir would if he were cool enough to go to space. Burnnnnnnnn.
The characters. Ok, I have serious problems with Mark Watney. He is just not a believable character, at ALL. You’re left on Mars by your crew, believed to be dead. It appears that the world will never know you survived. You have no way to contact anyone. Mars is uninhabitable, and your supplies/equipment are finite, and not set to last long. You’re injured. You don’t know at the time that there’s any chance for you to get home. You’ll probably never see your family again. What do you do? The human thing, where you try to survive because it’s an innate reaction, meanwhile experiencing extreme emotions of grief, depression and fear? Panic, maybe? NO! YOU’RE WRONG. If you’re Mark Watney, none of these emotions even come close to being recognised. Because Watney is just so fucking optimistic. It doesn’t even feel like he’s stranded on Mars. I mean, he displays mild concern about his circumstances, and even that doesn’t show well with the crappy writing. Nothing bad that happens fazes him whatsoever, and the year and a half he’s left on Mars with barely anything to hope for doesn’t psychologically affect him AT ALL. I think the author wanted to show how a bright, witty guy survives on Mars while maintaining his integrity, but come on. This could have been an amazing exploration of how being the only guy on Mars plays with a guy’s emotions and his humanity. What a fail, really. The other characters were just as bad. A bunch of cliches that you really don’t care about.
The stupid jokes. I’m sorry, Weir, but the witty humour you were going for? It ruined the characters and any emotions I may have had for this book. I think there were TWO instances that I cracked a smile, but that’s it. It was so cringe-worthy.
Exclamation points. I am going to start a petition where exclamation points are banned from books. For fuck’s sake, why add one in every second sentence? It makes the writing unbearable and makes me cringe so hard I start going back in time. Yup.
The journal entries. Weir failed so badly with this. The journal entries could have been really good ways to show Mark’s struggle on Mars, but what we got was this: “Ok, guys. Shit broke! But it’s cool, because I’m a kickass scientist, yay! So today, I science science science, while using this tool to science science science. Meanwhile, I had to tend to my potato farm by science science science, after which I used SCIENCE to do stuff to my rover and moderate my cool techno suit.*Insert lame pun/joke* *Insert additional exclamation point*” They were just unbelievably bad. I couldn’t stand them. At no point did I feel for Mark, and in fact I forgot that they were supposed to be him talking about his experiences, because they were just used as tools for Weir to show off his mad skillz. Suck it, Weir.
The end. Ironically, this was the best bit but that didn’t mean it didn’t suck ass. It was so rushed, and I mean wrapped-up-in-three-pages rushed. That’s it? When things finally get thriller-like and action-packed, that’s it? Dude!
However, you may have noticed that I didn’t give this book 1 star for being a colossal waste of time. Here are some things I liked:
The science (sometimes). I liked how things worked out, because Weir thought of pretty much everything.
Some of Mark’s thoughts. The human ones, anyway. Apart from the lame jokes and stupidly robotic descriptions of everything he did in his day, I kinda liked a few of his journal entries.
And, yeah. That’s pretty much it. The movie did it way better, and the main reason it worked so well is that it made the characters more believable. Plus it was nice seeing the science rather than have to read it in minute detail. Plus, you know. Matt Damon. Hmmmmmm.
So, there you go! A review, finally! Please, if someone feels like me, let me know. Or if you adored this book, let me know why. I’d love to hear what people found good about this book!
More soon, byeeeeee xxxxxx