I’m a child of ”Space Camp” (to the point that I have quotes like “We want to breathe, not dry clean our lungs,” and “Whip me, beat me, take away my charge cards, NASA is talking!” permanently engrained in my brain). A daughter of a man who includes Gene Kranz among his personal heroes. And a cinephile who came of age as “Apollo 13” hit the screens. Basically, I was practically genetically primed to love Andy Weir’s “The Martian.”
Well…. I love “The Martian.”
We’re talking “owned it for a month and already reading it a second time” love. It’s just that good.
Besides being masterfully researched–and you can just tell that there are reams of research behind the facts that actually show on the page–the book is extraordinarily well plotted and, quite frankly, laugh out loud funny. It helps that the antagonist is, as Weir had stated, ” an irreverent smart-ass,” a description that could easily apply to me.
In fact, the tone is already set within the first line of “I’m pretty much fucked.” As Weir himself has said “I never intended for the book to be as funny as it ended up being, but looking back, I think it had to be—with a premise that has so much potential to be claustrophobic, it’s Mark’s voice and his gallows humor that keep things light and fun for the reader.”
And Weir did a masterful job of playing with the narrative structure. In my initial read, while I was enjoying the first-person narrative, I was also aware that the conceit would start to feel old. But before that happens, Weir takes you somewhere else… And he does it again and again.
If I had to come up with a complaint, it would be that he stated to follow the structural pattern of an episode of “House:” think you’ve found the solution, new hurdle; think you’ve found the solution, new hurdle. Lather, rinse, repeat to the end. And yet, each new hurdle is well-timed and each solution satisfying (and it helps that the hurdle is never lupus.)
Based on the research and NASA/space love, I’d recommend the book to science and sci-fi fans. Based on the smart-ass characterization I’d recommend (and have been recommending it) to all my friends. And based on a well plotted/paced story, I’d recommend “The Martian” to anybody who reads.