Published by Crown Publishing Group on 2/11/2014
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Following the first human exploration of Mars, Mark Watney’s crew is forced to leave him alone on the planet in the middle of a dust storm. Faced with certain starvation and stranded millions of miles from Earth, Watney is left with only his ingenuity and remaining damaged technology to help him survive.
You’ve probably heard mentions of The Martian floating around the bookish internet over the last several months or have at least seen its gorgeous cover. After watching it pop up on BookRiot‘s “Best Books We Read…” lists in October and November, I ended up reading it in early December, unable to wait until closer to the publication date. I have a soft spot for survivalist stories, regardless of the setting, and was just itching to read.
I was quickly drawn in by Mark Watney’s humorous voice, penned in a daily log of his experiences and decisions after being left behind on Mars. Yet, over time, his upbeat and hokey style rarely wanes, making it hard to take his situation seriously or feel the sense of urgency the book demands. Similarly, when Weir flashes to decisions being made on Earth after the feared loss of Watney, dialogue between the NASA scientists lack the signature of real conversations, which leaves the majority of the novel’s characters feeling flat.
Though some of The Martian‘s arc is saved by Weir’s clear technical knowledge and his ability to propel Watney through a series of obstacles on the foreign planet, I found myself wishing I was watching the action as opposed to reading it (a film already seems to be in the works, so this looks like it could be a possibility in the near future). I seem to be floating alone in this opinion, but between the lulls of technical descriptions and overkill of Watney’s playful tone, The Martian failed to draw me in to the pull of its world.