I absolutely loved the book, The Martian, by Andy Weir.
I read it in two days, barely able to put it down. The whole time I was reading it I kept thinking, “this would make a great movie”. Of course, a movie was already in the works.
And of course everyone already knows — since the movie’s out and all — that they cast Matt Damon as Mark Watney. *sighs* I’m going to see the movie because I loved the story so much and from what I’ve heard the film tracks well with the book. But even knowing that Matt Damon is an excellent actor, I just don’t think I’ll be able to buy him in this part. It’s like Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. The character becomes subsumed by the movie star. No matter how well they may act the part it is always THEM, not the character.
I guess I feel a little protective of Watney. Who couldn’t after that story? I’m sure that if the character were real, he’d be completely pumped to have Matt Damon playing him in the movie. Still … as a reader … I’m disappointed.
The Martian, by Andy Weir
I had seen this book positively referenced by some of my fellow fantasy/science fiction fans so when it came up in an ad on Goodreads, I clicked over to Amazon and bought the ebook. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it because I’m honestly NOT an actual science fiction fan. I usually find the genre rather cold and lacking in humanity (I realize that depends on the author, but it’s usually pretty far down on the list of genres I go for). But I read the blurb for The Martian and it was intriguing. Even though I don’t like science fiction all that much (so far), I do love stories of human spaceflight and exploration. That’s exactly what this is.
The story is told mostly through Mark Watney’s POV. He’s been left for dead on Mars and he’s got to figure out how to survive long enough to be rescued. The reality of a Mars rescue is explored in depth and it seems completely impossible. Weir digs into all the possibilities and finds ways to work through problem after problem.
In a Q&A at the end of the book, he talks about how he wanted to make science drive the story. No meteors crashing into Watney, no advanced lifeforms, just the actual challenges that might occur in this situation. They are NOT mundane trials by any means, they’re just realistic.
The POV shifts at different parts of the book and that works well to keep the action moving. Weir, for a first time novelist, does an amazing job of building suspense while also constructing a story of hope. It could have gotten bogged down in the science, which is explored in minute detail, but it doesn’t. Watney’s humor and personable take on things is refreshing and the material becomes anything but dry. No, I couldn’t pass a test on the science in this book, but I can say I didn’t feel lost. I knew what he needed to happen, I knew what he was going to do to make it happen, and then I understood why it did or didn’t happen in the end. It’s masterful in its simplicity. Other authors who write about their beloved hobbies should take note.
I recommend reading the book before seeing the movie so you can read it with fresh eyes. But since the movie came out this past weekend, that’s kind of a tall order.
And, yes, I bought the dead tree version at Target when I saw they only had two left with the old cover and all the rest were Matt Damon. I may never actually crack that book, but I had to get it just in case. I’m kind of OCD like that.
Rating: five beans