My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
This novel was just so many great things rolled into a ball. This is the story of a man stranded. However, it isn’t just his story. It’s also the story of all the people who are dealing with the repercussions of his abandonment on Mars.
I was a little afraid going into this novel. Generally, hype does not effect me in the slightest. If I want to read a book I want to read it. End of story. The problem with this one was that it was a book I was interested in, but not something I was completely drawn in by the synopsis. Compile that with people who are claiming that this was such a great book that they don’t have words. Yes, that’s my problem. I like descriptions. Yet, no one had any descriptions for this book. So that’s what I’m going to do. Screw the idea of this is so good, just read it. I’m going to tell you exactly why I liked it.
This is a survival story. I am a huge sucker for survival stories. In high school I fell in love with Alive. You know the story about the Andes Mountain Survivors. There’s something about people being thrown into a situation where only a strong will to live, smarts, a willingness to make sacrifice and a whole lot of luck will keep them alive. Mark Watney’s story is no exception to this. From the very beginning the odds are stacked against him. In fact, I kept thinking that there was no possible way things could get worse. However, he was clearly being slammed with a severe case of Murphy’s Law. Mark kept trucking and it was that endurance that was intoxicating.
Yet fifty pages in or so, I started to feel like his constant encounters with Murphy were growing a tad tedious. I needed change. I got it in the form of finally seeing other perspectives. This was something that really saved the novel for me. As much as I enjoyed Mark, I didn’t think I could make it through an entire book with just his snark. The other perspectives gave us a different view of what was happening and how they were going to try to help. It brought new life into the novel and continually added to the intensity of the situation. Now, I wasn’t just growing attached to one perspective, but a slew of others who had just as much stake in Watney’s survival as he did.
That said, one of the things I did love about the novel was Mark’s wit and intelligence. This novel does not shy away from throwing scientific jargon at you. However, as it is Mark’s perspective it’s a combination of the technical with his lamens interpretation. As a result, this can come off as a read that requires some basic understandings of various topics. I can’t see the average middle schooler enjoying this. I liked it the book more because there were various elements that I understood without any of the simplifications. Pretty much what I’m trying to say is there is a lot of jargon.
I’ve talked a lot and yet I’ve hardly touched on the plot. It’s pretty straight forward. Mark is stuck on Mars. He has to survive. Unfortunately, like others, there isn’t much I can say that won’t spoil it like others. However, it is a series of bad luck. Thankfully, we get to see both sides of the situation. Always knowing the most important information first. It made for a great read. However, it is dense.
I loved it. However, I wasn’t so over the moon that it left me longing for more. I also had to note that I never felt too much tension largely because of a perspective I unintentionally had that flavored it.
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