A freak accident during a horrendous storm leads to Mark Watney, botanist and astronaut, being left behind on the surface of Mars, presumed dead. However, when a fortnight later satellite images from the site show evidence of his survival NASA’s finest scramble to bring Mark home, but can they counteract all the difficulties of the hostile environment of Mars and the danger of space travel to bring all six of the crew back alive?
As a reader, you cannot help but feel bombarded with the science and technology in this sci-fi thriller from the beginning. The problems encountered by Mark and his problem-solving soon became compulsive reading as I became less irritated by the technical information and more in awe of his resourcefulness. I don’t think the narrative or the character would have worked as well without a good sense of humour and the basic tenacity he had alongside the will to survive.
The mainstay of the story is scientific problem solving, but somehow Weir manages to weave in emotions such as fear and helplessness in an environment where you would expect people to be mechanical and emotionless. Ultimately this story isn’t about Mars, but about humanity and the value of life.
Mark’s crew, although not actually with him for most of the book, are a close-knit bunch of characters who were easy to read. Houston had a number of unsung heroes, who put everything into this project to save one life.
With a bit of humour and a whole lot of nail-biting, I can honestly say this could be the best sci-fi thriller I will read this year. Sci-fi isn’t a genre I gravitate to when it comes to books but I am a huge Sci-fi movie fan and I have yet to watch The Martian.
I felt bereft when the book ended as I had become so attached to Mark Watney and his quest for survival on Mars but there appears to be talk of a series and so we might hear more from him and the rest of the crew of Ares3.