Every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it’s true. If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive – and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue 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 kill 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. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
Ho-lee. CRAP. Those were literally the first words out of my mouth when I finished The Martian by Andy Weir. I won’t beat around the bush. I absolutely fell head over heels in love with this book. I devoured it (well, as much as I could with many 4am shifts in my way). I’m pretty sure that I annoyed my roommate with just how much I broke out into loud and uncontrollable laughter, not to mention with how much I was raving about the novel. As soon as I saw the book and read the back, I knew I wanted to read it. However, I waited for awhile because my expectations were high and I was worried that it would be like “Castaway” but in space – great concept, not so great execution. That was not the case here at all.
In order for a story that is primarily about a character stuck in an isolated area – whether it be an island, a cave, space, etc. – you have to have a character with a really strong personality and Mark Watney is the epitome of that. Strong opinions, a fantastic sarcastic sense of humor, and arsenal of smart ass comments and skyrocketing intelligence, he’s the whole package. I was also slightly worried about the science-y factor, not to mention the math factor, after all I’m not a genius nor do I have a science background. However as technical as a lot of it could be, it was broken down quite a bit and while there is no way that I could ever “science the shit” out of a mission to mars, I was able to at least follow along and not feel lost. In fact, the science intrigued me (just as it does in Michael Crichton books).
Throughout the course of “The Martian” I felt all the emotions. I laughed like a hyena, my heart felt like it stopped during several of the more action-packed moments, I even felt some of the loneliness and despair that Mark would mention. And most of all, I was rooting for him the whole time. I never wanted to put down this book and quite literally fell in love with it. I highly recommend “The Martian” to anyone even remotely interested in space survival books. You will not be disappointed and I cannot wait for Andy Weir’s next book, whatever it may be.
What was the last fictional survival book that you read? Would you recommend it? Why or why not? Let me know in a comment!