Note: This was a buddy read with the ever-wonderful Me Grimlock King!. She was nice enough to let me choose the book for our BR, and for that reason, I think it was more up my alley than hers (*understatement*). Regardless, thanks for reading with me, Grim!
I went into my read of The Martian with pretty high expectations. Everyone I know who has read it has had some pretty lofty opinions of it.
As I started it, I could immediately see why. This book, which tells the (fictional) tale of a stranded astronaut on Mars named Mark Watney, sucks you in immediately. I mean, here's how it starts:
I’m pretty much fucked.
That’s my considered opinion.
However, as I was reading The Martian, I started to become a little wary. Yes, Mark's plight and his efforts to survive were interesting, but it started feeling a little one-note. All of the hard science included was cool, but it didn't necessarily help the book with regard to the "riveting" factor. I started to think that this was a book that I would end up being the "odd man out" on, enjoying it to a degree but not understanding why it's so beloved.
Well, after finishing it, I'm happy to say that I was wrong. Turns out, this was a great damn book.
Now, with that said, it's not for everyone. You probably have to enjoy survival stories, and you have to at least be able to tolerate, if not like, hard science. It would also help to have at least some interest in sci-fi, space, astronauts, and that sort of thing.
But, when it comes down to it, I'm pretty sure that I've never wanted a fictional character to live as much as I wanted Mark Watney to live. Following the story to find out whether he ultimately makes it or not is completely nail-biting. It's stressful. I'm not kidding - I had stress dreams about this book (it probably didn't help that I had a fever at the time, but I digress).
Initially, as stated above, I thought the story was going to be one-note, but once it ventures away from the diary-style writing and shows what's happening on Earth, the change of pace is refreshing. I still loved the stuff from Mark's point-of-view of course, but it was nice for that to not be the whole book.
I'm also super impressed by Andy Weir's knowledge of the subject matter, and the research it must have taken to write this book. (Then again, he could have made 95% of it up and I'd be none the wiser, but hey, at least it sounded really impressive!)
As I got about 50% into this book, I couldn't put it down. I needed to know what was going to happen to Mark. The things he did in the story to try to survive were amazing (I'm sure if I were in Mark's position, I would have given up and taken the morphine shots), and I had to find out what it all amounted to.
So yes, great book. Riveting. Compelling. Suspenseful. Go read it.