Book Review: The Martian

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After almost a two week hiatus, I’m back!

There’s been so much going on, I feel like I haven’t even had much time to just breathe! Which is both good and bad, and definitely part of summer. I mentioned in my last post that I injured my knee, and it’s finally starting to feel better! Every day has had little victories when it comes to moving and healing. It’s a slow process. But, somehow, it hasn’t slowed me down much. It has given me a little extra time to read, though, which has been wonderful.

About a month ago, my husband and I were talking about finding a book club to join. We both love reading, and I have had a hard time reading for fun since college (I graduated grad school 3 years ago…). We talked to some friends and co-workers, and there was an overwhelming response! So much so that the little book club we wanted turned into 15ish people… And them broke into one huge book club (of about 12) and a smaller book club (of about 5). I am going to write about the books I read here, because it will be good to gather my ideas prior to meeting with the book clubs, and I can share with all of you books that are awesome!

The first meeting of the huge book club is next Friday. Even though I am really introverted and don’t do well in groups of people, I’m pretty excited! Maybe it’s because I have something to talk about. 

**NOTE: From here on, there will probably be some spoilers about the book I just read, The Martian, by Andy Weir.

Everyone in the book club picked a book they wanted to read, and then the list was randomized, so that it would be fair to everyone. And then it was re-randomized when we added a few more people, but we finally settled on a reading order, which will go for the next year. Boy, we’re an ambitious and dedicated group.

The first pick is The Martian, the first novel by author Andy Weir. If you’re wondering why you’ve heard of it, it could be that it was on the New York Times Bestseller List. Or, it could be that it’s being made into a movie with Matt Damon playing the main character. And, the trailer looks good. But, read the book first! 🙂

The Martian takes place in the not-so-distant future, where manned missions to Mars are possible, and have already successfully happened. So, not next year or anything like that. The book is mostly narrated by one of the astronauts, Mark Watney, who is stranded on the red planet after a storm causes NASA to abort their mission and his crew believes him to be dead. He must improvise and fight to survive on a planet that is not hospitable to life, where it will take four years for the next mission to arrive (if they come at all), and he does not have enough food and water to make it nearly that long.

Almost anything that can go wrong does, which at times is sort of painful to read. The reader obviously wants Mark to survive (at least I did), so any setback is frustrating and scary. It’s impressive to read about the creative solutions he comes up with for problems (like how he grows potatoes in the shelter where he sleeps, which extends his food supply). Even though it’s a work of fiction, some of it seems really realistic.The author does use quite a bit of science, so that definitely helps with the realism.

One thing that is great about Mark is that he is an interesting character to have narrate a story. In order for him to narrate, it’s basically that the reader is reading his journals from his mission. So he talks about what he’s thinking, how he’s feeling and what he did during that Sol (which is a Mars “day”). He is really funny and sarcastic at times, but also really intelligent, so the reader begins to trust that he can survive anything. He obviously get homesick, and it’s sad to read about him being utterly alone. But, he generally handles it with humor.

I don’t want to give away the ending, because you should read it! But, the thing I really enjoyed about this book is that it left so many things to ponder and discuss. I also love that it really is a story about how humans are tenacious and hopeful. We are a strong species, and we will fight to survive.

The next book pick (for the smaller book club) is The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. For the bigger one, it’s The Princess Bride, by William Goldman. Both are my picks, July is apparently my lucky month! 🙂 Look for reviews on those two books in the coming weeks!

Have you read The Martian? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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