So here is novel number 11 of the year, The Martian, by Andy Weir. I enjoyed the film very much, and was very excited to read the novel. This is another novel that is not on my Reading Challenge list, but what the heck right? We’ve got time!
You may have been noticing a little that I have been reading on the train quite a lot. Its true, long train journeys have been becoming a little bit of a regular occurrence and reading is a good way to get through those hours. The Martian is a very good example of a good train read. It’s well written, it had me laughing on the train, it had me nearly crying in a coffee shop later on, it is just a very good all rounder.
The plot follows Mark Watney, who is unavoidably stranded on Mars, and his plan to survive. Watney is one of those examples of characterisation that I am going to carry around in my head for a long time, that’s to say I almost miss him, because he was such a clear voice in the novel. The novel is full of his logs from his time on Mars and it’s a conversational narrative that is very engaging. It is almost as if you are sat over a pint and he is retracing his steps on Mars for you. But if it was only Watney’s log it would be a little exhausting, it’s a very long passage of time and without a break I think I would’ve lost interest. A lot happens on Mars, a lot goes wrong, and a lot of solutions are necessary along with some mad science.
The novel changes perspective to NASA and the red tape they are cutting through to rescue Watney which really rounds out the novel. NASA are of course fear stricken to realise they have left an astronaut on Mars and face the near impossible task of getting food to him before he starves, contacting him with no communication device, and building equipment to spec in next to no time at all.
This is a novel that covers science fiction very well without feeling science fiction. It’s about space, it’s about Mars, it’s about problem solving, but it’s very accessible. It’s got a sense of humour. There were moments of tension that were punctuated by humour that literary broke through the fourth wall and had me laughing on the train like a crazy person.
I was also really emotionally invested in this one as I was reading it. There is always a risk in falling in love with a film and finding yourself compelled to read the novel. There are of course subtle differences between the film and the novel, but they aren’t so significant that I can really critique them. In reality I felt that Watney on Mars in the novel, has a much harder time than Watney on Mars in the film.
This was a novel that I really struggled to put down. I really loved the intimate dialogue from Watney, I enjoyed the perspective shift to NASA, I enjoyed being as clueless as NASA as to where Watney was going at one point. This is a novel I will read again without a doubt and I highly recommend it.