My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Martian may not be for everyone but I really liked it. The main character, Mark Watney is an astronaut stranded on Mars after he is assumed dead during an emergency evacuation. Not wanting to diss astronauts but I think quite a few are probably quite like Watney, i.e. overgrown nerd/jock school boys and as a large part of the story consists of his mission logs, if overgrown nerd/jock school boys annoy you, you’re going to get annoyed. However I say I think a lot of astronauts are like Watney or at least I imagine a lot of astronauts are like him because I think it takes a special kind of person to risk their life like that, I can imagine that they’re all big kids up for adventure. Luckily for Watney the aforementioned character attributes really help him during his time on Mars, as he faces crisis after crisis trying to survive when the nearest help is four years away and the food is going to run out a very long time before that. It’s his “well f*ck I’m in trouble but lets see if I can work a way out of this” good humoured attitude that enables him to survive in a way that others may not.
The technology in the book does not seem too far from our own, other than the invention of the ion drive spaceship, pretty much everything else seems current and all the science and the fixes seem very real. In fact so real, large chunks of the book read more like a particularly inventive problem solving text book, i.e. if astronaut a has x amount of b and y amount of c, how does he make z amount of d? I can’t recall another novel which has quite so much maths and science in it and I’ve read that all the science and solutions are factual, so no made up science fiction here.
Finally, I really like the end message of the book (in fact it’s quoted line for line in the trailer for the upcoming movie, which looks like it’ll be excellent by the way), Watney has to survive largely on his own ingenuity but he’s also dependent on many, many people going very out of their way just to help one man.