Coming off of a bummer of a book, I was SO pleased when I started reading The Martian and found it so very enjoyable. Sigh, yes, this is why I read Sci-Fi.
So first, I will acknowledge that this book has some "real life" inaccuracies and you definitely have to suspend disbelief... but isn't that why we read fiction? Because it's fiction? For me, any real-life inaccuracies were massively dwarfed by the sheer pleasure of reading this book.
What did I love about it? Much. For one, there's no romance! How refreshing to read something with no romantic tension, romantic triangles, sex, etc. Just good story. And not that I don't like romance in any of my books, but it gets a bit old when that's all anyone seems to write about (e.g., all those darn teen dystopias, with so much potential....).
For another, the commander of the mission is female, there's another female astronaut, the best pilot in the world is hispanic, the guy in charge is... I'm not sure but his name is Kapoor and he's not white ;), and there's also a german astronaut--like, actually German. And China is involved... and it's positive. But it doesn't feel like a United Colors of Benetton commercial - it's just how things are; it's organic. Why does that matter? It's such a hopeful view of our future, and I love that Weir wrote it. So many people feel the need to show how bleak they can get; I love Weir's optimism. Love it.
For another... I'm just so impressed with how Weir wrote an entire novel that is largely a one-man show... involving math and science talk... and yet it's SO interesting. It's accessible... and even when it's a little over the average reader's head? It's still somehow accessible and readable. (if you get tripped up in a math or science section.... go ahead and just keep reading; no need to understand the science or math of everything in here ;)). HOW is it so interesting?! So impressed.
Oh, so what's it about? Mark Watney, an astronaut from Chicago (and the University of Chicago), brilliant w/ a biting sarcastic sense of humor (IS this my husband he's writing about? ok, maybe he's not an astronaut, but everything else...... ;)) gets stuck on Mars when an evacuation goes horribly wrong. Stuck. On. Mars. Like forever away. And everyone assumes he's dead because there's no information telling them otherwise. And his team is on a ship heading back to Earth, which is a years-proposition. So what's he going to do? Try to survive. On Mars. Alone. So far away from everything and everyone he's ever known. And so progresses a novel in which Mark uses humor to diffuse complicated and horrible situation after complicated and horrible situation. And other stuff. But just read it to find out. I didn't know much about this novel before starting. You don't need to either.
Is it perfect? Nah, but it really didn't need to be. It's just pure enjoyment reading this book. Sure there were some things that I found less-than-convincing (maybe he'd be a little crazier, lose a little more of his personality after his experiences?)... but whatever. :)
I'd really recommend this to anyone. It's sci-fi that's based in reality ... this IS likely our future (well, I mean, going to Mars :)), Weir just took us there a little sooner. So, even if you think you hate Sci-fi, you might like this one anyway.
Four and a half of five stars (boosted to 5 on cites w/o halves).
PS. Matt Damen as Mark Watney? Perfect.