The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy WeirThe Martian by Andy Weir
Published by Crown Publishing Group on 2/11/2014
Source: Publisher
Pages: 384
Buy from IndieBound


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.


  • Yeah, the dialogue between the NASA scientists was probably my least favorite part. But gosh this one must have hit me when I was in the right mood, because I couldn’t put it down. I’m interested to see how they make a movie out of it when so much is his internal thought process. Sorry that this one fell flat for you!

    • I didn’t necessarily have a hard time getting through it, but I think I just started to become really aware of everything that was pulling me out of the environment. I have a feeling that I just had REALLY high expectations for it and maybe it just didn’t live up to them.

  • Vasilly

    Ack! Too bad this book fell flat for you. Now I have more realistic expectations for The Martian after reading your review.

  • I’m still in the early pages of this one (finally borrowed a Nook cord), but I can see how the lightness and banter of Watney’s voice could get old and make things a little flat. We’ll see how it goes!

    • It was just really unexpected that his tone would change so little. I hope you end up falling on the positive side!

  • Kelly Massry

    That makes sense. I think the same things would’ve irked me.

  • I had so much fun reading this book, but it also freaked me out. I’m not sure on the science but I’m not going to try and make water.

    • Yeah, no way! I’m not sure on the science either, but Andy Weir’s bio says he was a programmer at a national laboratory at 15, so I’m going to assume most of it is pretty close.

  • Ti Reed

    Hmmm…how did I miss this one? I think I would have snapped it up had I seen it or known about it but what you said here gives me pause. I would expect such a situation to be very dire and if the tone did not demonstrate urgency, then I think I’d lose interest in it quickly.

  • I LOVED this book, but I did feel the lull about 75% through. It was saved by the action at the end though.

  • This book reminded me of a number of movies I’ve seen and disliked, so I opted not to pick it up. Hopefully you’re right though and this will actually make a good film, even though the book didn’t quite work for you. Great review! Your space metaphors at the end made me smile :)

  • One of my most anticipated books for 2014. It sounds intriguing. I see that it didn’t completely impress you so I’m lowering my expectations a bit :)

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