The Fiction Fox
Review: The Martian - Andy Weir
Updated: Sep 6, 2018
Genre: Science Fiction Published: Crown Publishing, february 2014 Rating: 5 stars
“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
The Martian has to be my most surprising read of 2017. Not only that: it was also one of my favorite reads. I haven’t had so much fun reading a book in a long time.
The premise of this book sounds terrifying. Mark Watney is part of the first crew to ever set foot on Mars. What begins as a successful space-mission ends in a disaster when a dust storm surprises the crew and separates Mark from the group. Injured and presumed dead, the crew evacuates, leaving Mark stranded on Mars, only having his own wit and intelligence to fall back on for survival.
It honestly sounds like the start of a dark thriller or horror story, and although it has the tension befitting of that, this is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. This probably says a lot about me and my very poor sense of humor, but I chuckled out loud a few times whilst reading, and am not even ashamed of that.
Something else I am not ashamed to admit, is that Mark is one of my favorite characters of all time. I don’t crush on book characters, but if I had to pick a fictional boyfriend, I’d go with Mark. I want to emphasize how hard it is to do what Andy Weir did here: he wrote a scenario where one character has to carry the entire book. As during the majority of the book he is literally the only person on the planet, so if the reader doesn’t like or feel for him, your book is pretty much fucked (see what I did there 😉 )
Mark is the perfect character for this: he is incredibly smart, levelheaded, brave and copes with his impossible situation with the most amazing, smart, dark and cynical humor, which I live for. We see Mark in his lowest moments, scared and alone, and you just want to step into the book and give him a hug. Yet we also celebrate with him in his most victorious ones when he finally gets some piece of technology created from duct tape and tinfoil working. I can honestly not remember ever rooting so hard for a character since I was a kid.
Kudos to Andy Weir for making me (a soulless ginger with a heart of stone) feel so many emotions whilst reading.
And whilst we are at the topic of Kudos: I have deep respect for all the scientific research that went into this book. Although I have a hard time believing that all of it would work in reality, most of the things that are discussed are at least grounded in reality. You can tell the author did his homework!
Finally; this has been a pretty lighthearted review, as that mostly fits the tone of the novel. However, the beauty of this story is that it is more than just wise-crack science jokes and potato-growing. At its core, this is a novel about the survivalstrength that is in all of us. Our ability to stay positive, and find joy and positivity in the little things, even in the most bleak of situations. A quote from the book that says this perfectly is the following message from Mark to Earth:
“Things didn’t go as planned, but I’m not dead so that’s a win…"
If you look past the humor, this is actually more profound than you might think, and might as well be the slogan of my life…
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