Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.
It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission 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 get him first.
But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
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Oh man. So, pretty much everything there is to say has already been said about this book. It’s great, it’s suspenseful, and yes, it is full of really science dense paragraphs. I quite like science, so I tried to follow along with these for the most part but I won’t lie, there were times where I found I had zoned out for a little bit. I can see how that might put people off but it shouldn’t. You can always just skim through until the science heavy explanation ends. I put that little disclaimer in there because long story short, if you like sci fi even a little, you need to read this book.
Firstly, I’m really glad that the story varied in viewpoints. I still would have enjoyed the book if it was told purely from Watney’s perspective, just not nearly as much as I did with the inclusion of characters like Venkat Kapoor, and the odd glance into the life of the other Aries 3 crew members. After the initial action, I was becoming a little bored by the science and just as I was about to start skimming through, the story returned to Earth. It’ll sound cheesy to say these other viewpoints ‘ground’ the story, but I’m saying it anyway. The book is clearly science fiction but in an accessible way because the Earth of the story is very like the Earth we’re living in today. It’s nice to be reminded of that when you’re listening to Mark explain his latest plan for using his CO2 filters, or talking about why Mars’ atmosphere isn’t as conducive to his latest scheme as he might have liked.
I listened to the book on audiobook and again, I think I preferred the experience because of it. RC Bray does an amazing performance in which all of the characters’ voices are clearly distinguishable from the others and he even nails tricky (and easily parodied) accents. This book was a bloody rollercoaster. Mortal peril followed by more peril, followed by planning and optimism and then back to peril again. More planning. Repeat. I knew that regardless of whether the book ended happily or, ah, with the death of Watney and possibly also the deaths of his crewmates, that I would probably end the book in tears. I did. The whole last section was intense, and because I was listening to the book, it felt like I was listening to the events play out over the radio or on TV like the other people on Earth. I’m not going to tell you how it ends, but I am going to tell you to read it for yourself.