The Martian // Book Review

 Goodreads Description:  
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 & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he 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 isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

I finished this book about two weeks ago. I never did write a review, not even on Goodreads, but there’s been a lot of buzz about it since the movie comes out October 2nd, so I figured some people might be interested to know how the book was.

Things I Liked:
  • Mark Watney’s character. His voice is so fresh and funny. I know that’s about the last thing you expect, but most of this book was actually really amusing.
  • Suspense. Oooooh, I felt like I was on the tip of my seat SO MUCH. A few parts were predictable, but most of the time I had no idea what was going to happen next.
  • It was a unique story. There have been a lot of focus on space lately, especially in movies, and you see a lot of survival stories, like Hatchet or 127 Hours, but this story combines the two and gives you the ultimate space survival story. But Watney’s character is not what you would expect, which gives the book a whole new dimension. 
Things I Did Not Like:
  • The constant problem-I might die-solution-still alive cycle. It was realistic to a certain point, then it just started getting too much. I get that he’s on Mars and there are going to be a lot of problems, but it felt like this cycle was repeated a hundred times. It got really repetitive.
  • Math, but no work. This book is full of math, but Watney does most of it in his head and tells you the answer without going into detail about how he did it all. That’s great for someone like me (and probably most bookworms) because we don’t care about math, we’re not good at math, and we definitely don’t want to read a 300+ page novel filled with equations. But I bet the author put a lot of time working out all the math in this book, so I think there should be some sort of appendix at the end that explains the problems and solutions.
  • It got really slow about 3/4 of the way through. I think this goes back to the cycle. The first half is filled with so much suspense that you want to read it all at once, but then you get tired of the repeated cycle so it loses a lot of steam. It picks up a little bit towards the very end, but I struggled during this stretch of the book.
There were a few other things I did not like about it, but I can’t say much without giving away spoilers. 
Basically, this seemed more of a survival story than a science fiction novel, but it is written in a way that makes it accessible to all readers. That said, I got bored by a lot of the science and couldn’t visualize a lot of things he was talking about, so I think it might be better portrayed as a movie.
They just released a new trailer, if you’re interested, though it gives away some details of the plot:
I thought the book was four stars until about halfway through, but at the end it wasn’t quite as great as I expected, so I gave it 3.5 stars, but rounded up to 4 on Goodreads.
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Tell me if you’ve read this, or if you’re planning to read it! Did you like it? Also, are you going to see the movie? What do you think of the trailer? Let me know!
–Emily

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