Book Review: The Martian

Well, the bad news is I have a cold.  And thus I haven’t been sewing much.  I am very behind on my commission schedule.  The good news is that, being sick, I didn’t feel too guilty about taking a day of rest.  Of course, I was planning on sleeping, but I kept waking up because of respiratory issues.  So, instead of lying awake and staring at the ceiling, I decided to start this month’s Sword & Laser book club pick: The Martian by Andy Weir.  And, because this book is literary crack, I finished it about a day later.

The Martian tells the tale of Mark Watney, a NASA astronaut who accidentally gets stranded on Mars when a dust storm cuts his mission short.  Using his wits as a mechanical engineer/botanist, Mark is forced to come up with a survival plan using only his team’s leftover supplies and any other piece of NASA debris he can find near his campsite.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, (1) I am a science nerd, (2) Apollo 13 is one of my favorite movies, and (3) I loves me a character full of some snark.  So, basically, I am this book’s target audience.  So when I go on to say I obsessively loved it, you might have to take that with a grain of salt.
This book definitely had a feeling of MacGuyver/Cast Away/Apollo 13 all mixed together, but that only made it more fun for me.  If you aren’t excited by a character doing math to figure out exactly when, why, and how they are going to die you might not be super excited by this story.  On the other hand, the main character’s sense of humor might be enough to pull anyone through, even during the mathematical bits.  Also, despite the fact that there was a lot of discussions of “technical” things the story moved at a quick pace and never felt bogged down.  The author definitely has a skill with comedic timing that lent the book a perfect balance of excitement, danger, and humor.
My only minor quibble with the book is that I wasn’t sure if the ending provided quite enough closure for me.  However, in light of the title of the book, the chosen end point does make quite a bit of sense.  And I think the ending is appropriate for the characters of the story – just not sure if it is quite emotional enough for me as the reader.  I don’t know that the story needed to continue, but perhaps something like a brief Afterword would have been appropriate in this situation.  Overall I was quite satisfied with the book though, so, like I said, minor quibble.
This review is a bit short as the book has only been out a few months and I want to avoid spoilers as much as possible.  And this book is really hard to talk about without giving away spoilers.  But it is good.  So, so good.  I will say that if you find curse words incredibly offensive you may not like this book (they aren’t used overly much, but often enough when the main character finds himself in dire straights, which is, well, often enough), or you may not want to let younger children read it, but otherwise it really is fantastic.  The book remains quick, light, and fun despite dealing with a somewhat fantastical life and death situation, and avoids get bogged down in its own technical jargon and seriousness.  It is a fantastic read and I highly recommend it.

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