I think that The Martian is a particularly difficult book to review without giving away spoilers. That said, I think I’ve come to it quite late, so perhaps everyone has already read it and / or seen the film, so maybe it’s not one to worry about.
Following an accident that causes his team to abandon their mission on Mars ahead of schedule, Mark Watney has been stranded. Alone. His position is dire – he has no way to leave Mars, his food supplies are limited, and he has to rely on technology that could breakdown at any moment for water, heat and oxygen. And Mars is a fair distance away, so a rescue mission would be difficult, even if anyone knew that he was still alive…
I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Martian. I haven’t seen the film yet (I like to read the book first!) but I was aware of the premise. I really enjoyed it – more than I expected to. I don’t think I’ve read a novel that manages to maintain such tension throughout in the way that this does. And there’s plenty that could go wrong, and not just the things that you expect.
There is a fair amount of science to gets to grips with – everything Watney does to aid his survival he explains to you. But, it’s relatively jargon free and easy to understand. And it is fairly essential to the storyline. Whether it’s true or not is another matter entirely – I’ve no idea. I don’t really care. It sounded feasible, and that’s enough for me.
I think that The Martian says a lot about the human will to survive against the odds. No matter what the situation, I think that humans are hardwired to do whatever they can to keep going. There are plenty of examples of this, both in real life and in works of fiction, and even though this particular situation isn’t one that we’re likely to find ourselves in, I think that the principles are the same.
I think that this is a great novel, and it’s easy to see why it’s been made into a film – I imagine it translates extremely well to the big screen. Highly recommended.