Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Martian - Andy Weir

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction
Published: 2012
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

When I first picked up “The Martian” by Andy Weir I didn’t know what to expect as this was a new author and the premise wasn’t that original. However, by the time I closed the final pages I realised that this was quite simply my favourite book of those I read in 2013. It actually had me hooked from the first pages few pages due to its realism, humour and a character that the reader can find easy to emotionally engage with.

As said, earlier, the premise of the story isn’t that original with an astronaut known as Mark Watney being abandoned on the planet Mars. We then get to follow Mark as he tries to survive on the planet’s inhospitable surface in the hope of future rescue. There are portions of the story which focus elsewhere as we see NASA trying to react but on the whole the book is concentrated on Mark’s individual struggles.

The pacing is perfect and the narrative voice of Watney is quite simply wonderful. With a book like this in which one character dominates the majority it is important that they are realistic and that the reader would want to take the journey with him through the highs and lows. Weir has done a brilliant job in creating Watney and at no point was I not fully behind him in his adventure. He is witty, humorous and full of a determination and drive to survive which helps the reader warm to him very quickly. I found myself laughing at his jokes, cheering his successes and wishing him to get home with all my being. It has been a long time since I have really felt for a character like I did Watney and I think that unless you have a heart of stone you will struggle not to like him either.

Another superb element of the story is the way in which Weir manages to blend science into the story in such an entertaining and interesting way. Until I read this book I never knew that someone could make the science of soil so enjoyable to follow. This utilisation of chemistry, biology and physics also really enhanced the story and helped add to the overall realism. It highlighted to me both the abilities of the characters but also the thought and dedication that has gone on behind the scenes in writing the book.

Overall, I have to say that “The Martian” is a superb achievement for Weir in that he has taken a well-used science-fiction premise and repackaged it expertly. The pacing is perfect, the characters are engaging, the science is used in an interesting manner and there is a wonderful level of witty humour throughout. I am happy to recommend this book to anyone out there who enjoys an engaging and entertaining science fiction story with an undeniable hint of humour.


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