Friday, July 1, 2016

THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir [Book recommendation]

Book obtained from: Library New Books shelf, audio book
This review is of the book.  I have not seen the movie.

Description: Mark Watney, the junior member of a Mars mission, is injured in a severe dust storm.  The other astronauts believe he died, so they abandon the mission, retreat to their ship, and set out to return to Earth.  Except Watney didn't die.  He has to figure out how to survive until NASA can send another ship to rescue him.

Plot:  More than half of the book is how Watney survives on Mars.  The author is a real engineer/techno-geek and these descriptions were VERY detailed [with exact numbers] and sometimes tedious.  At first I tried to follow along with the details, but after a while I gave up and just listened to the story.  Some chapters are NASA folks figuring out what happened and how to retrieve him.  Other chapters are Watney's crew members learning he didn't die and what they do to retrieve him.

Characterization: Watney isn't as well developed as I would have liked.  He rarely, if ever, muses on memories from his past, friends he missed, things like that.  He only occasionally thinks about his parents, etc.  The story would have been that much better if there were instances of these memories.  He is, however, hysterically sarcastic and definitely someone I'd like to be stranded with somewhere, if I ever have that unfortunate circumstance.  Most of the secondary characters were at least somewhat developed, with their own distinct personalities.  I liked the fact the author included a lot of diversity in his character choices.

Setting: Mars.  Some scenes at NASA facilities and inside the ship containing Watney's crew members.  Descriptions were very good.

Other:  There were a few scenes, usually related to count-downs of rescue missions, where the author ramped up the suspense very well.  I also laughed quite a few times during this book, I would say at least once every half-hour.  Watney's sarcasm is really funny.

Overall:  An excellent story.  This author really knows his science, altho it did get tedious at times.  I actually tried to read this in book form, but put the book aside after about 50 pages because I couldn't get through the details.  Then I tried the audio book.  Listening on audio was much better.

Grade: A-

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