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This is my 500th review!
Cover designed by: Eric White
The Martian by Andy Weir
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Pages: 384 pages (Hardcover)
Published: 11th February 2014 by Crown (US)
I have to admit, I didn’t expect I would have such a great time reading this book, but The Martian, somehow, became one of the most enjoyable sci-fi books I’ve ever read.
“I guess you could call it a “failure”, but I prefer the term “learning experience”.”
As I mentioned several times across my reviews, if I’ve watched a movie/TV series adaptation—that I loved—based on books first before I read the book, there’s a good chance that I might find the reading experience inferior because I already know how the story will go; the same situation goes for the other way around, too, of course. Usually, this is countered by beautiful prose or incredible characterizations/details that the movie/TV series omitted. Now, The Martian doesn’t have what I’d consider memorable prose, but the engaging narrative and the charm of the main character was more than sufficient to thoroughly hold my attention. Remembering that the The Martian used to be an unknown self-published novel and looking at how successful it is now, I think it’s safe to call The Martian as one of the biggest success stories in self-publishing history.
“I don’t want to come off as arrogant here, but I’m the best botanist on the planet.”
The Martian is a survival story, and what made it such an incredible book? Mark Watney and its pacing. Mark Watney, oh Mark Watney, what an absolutely delightful human being. Think about it, this is a story about someone being stranded on Mars all by himself. Not on a deserted city, not on a deserted Earth, but on Mars. Handled by a different author, this premise could’ve easily become a grim and bleak novel. But not The Martian. Even knowing the outcome of the story didn’t affect my enjoyment; Watney’s positivity and attitudes are intoxicating. We often hear advice that says a positive mindset brings positive results. And the positivity in Watney’s character in the face of constant danger despite the terrifying premise made this such an accessible book by the mass population.
“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”
LOG ENTRY: SOL 61
How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”
I seriously laughed several times when I’m reading this book; that doesn’t happen frequently. I feel like comedy is one element that’s insanely difficult to pull off right in a novel. For the majority of the time, I find humor in novels much more effective when they’re actually balanced with intense and serious moments/events. This is something that Andy Weir executed magnificently in The Martian. Watney is resourceful, he’s determined, he’s hopeful, and the balance between tension and humor was brilliant. The result? A narrative that’s so equally entertaining, hilarious, intense, and compelling that even all the sci-fi jargons became so much fun to read.
“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
Yes, worship the duct tape; they can fix almost everything.
There were instances where everything just felt so believable that I forgot I was reading science fiction. It’s a genuinely good feeling to read a book that lives up to all the praises; it seems like it doesn’t happen too often to me anymore lately. The Martian is easily one of the most wonderful sci-fi I’ve ever read; intense, funny, believable, and relentlessly captivating. Whether you’ve watched the movie adaptation or not, and regardless of what you feel about the movie, I still highly consider you to read this book.
“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.”
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