Book Club: The Martian

Good summer evening, lovelies!!

It has certainly been a while hasn't it? My life has been one hectic journey lately (something I'll be discussing later this week on the blog) and I've been thinking of a couple of creative directions I want to make with Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

In the meantime, please enjoy this book review by my good friend, Jen:

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The Best Book Ever! Or at Least This Year...
by Jen Muller

The Martian by Andy Weir is officially one of my favorite books; easily in my top 10.  The plot: a team of astronauts go to Mars and after a storm separates and injures Mark Watney from his team, he becomes stranded and presumed dead on a deserted planet. As the book states, it is truly “castaway story for the new millennium.”

Usually with a book, you can recognize the genre and general schemes that the plots tend to follow. This story, however had just the right amount of plot twists that kept me interested and not frustrated by constant setbacks. I found the amount of setbacks for the characters to be well balanced with the rewards for their trails. This kept me invested, as a reader, in the characters’ survival.

The writing in this novel was fantastic. To be honest I didn’t have high hopes for a novel that is heavy on math and engineering conversations. That said, I found all technical information easy to digest and loaded with either jokes or analogies, allowing me to comprehend how a man stranded could survive against literal alien elements.

The novel switches perspectives between Mark’s personal log, the third person when in NASA or on the space station, and sometimes its abstracts of computer messages.  Personally, I usually find it annoying when novels switch perspectives like, but in the context that Weir uses for the changes, I found it to enhance the story and I found myself immersed in the characters’ plights.

Astronomy is a very complicated field and going to Mars is quite a technical task that relies heavily on experts in the fields of engineering, chemistry, biology, astronomy, mathematics, and every other fields in science and technology from here to the sun. This novel had every reason to bog down the plot with technically specific information, but it didn’t.

Weir walks the reader through Mark’s background in botany and engineering which foreshadows how he will use these skills to survive. Weir doesn’t talk down to the reader and in fact he makes it all understandable. I found myself reading this book on the subway and understanding the chemistry of creating water from pure oxygen and hydrogen, I understood the mechanics of solar cells and electrical engineering, and I found myself riveted by Mark’s problem solving skills.

The science in this novel is very complicated, but since it is so well written I found myself genuinely interested when new challenges cropped up.

I loved the characters in this book. I found I could relate to them and their challenges, and I was invested in their backgrounds and the successes. Mark Watney is the main character in this novel and he shows great growth throughout the novel. Watney is presented with many challenges and where the majority of people would feel abandoned or depressed, Mark simply seems to take a breath and begin to solve the problem. Sure, there is some cursing and there is some screaming about situations, but he is remarkably well-adjusted and has a great sense of humor throughout the story.

I actually laughed out loud on the subway while reading this book…multiple times! I am known for a lack of a sense of humor but this book... well!

The secondary characters are well-rounded and very realistic characters, but what surprised me about the background characters was how diverse they were. For example, secondary characters in this novel are German, Hindu, white, black, Hispanic, male, female, married, single, nerdy, cool, etc. These characteristics for secondary characters surprise me because it grounds the context of the novel. I also found their actions to be incredibly realistic. Actions were dramatized for the novel (in my non-expert opinion) and they seemed to behave like a real-world adult would. I also found these secondary characters to be refreshing, which is a detail in this novel that I never expected to enjoy.

Weir was a programmer for a national laboratory at age 15 and has been working as a software engineer since. He is not your typical author, and yet his writing style, plot, and characterization were far superior to books I’ve read by traditional authors. I had to add this note in my review because no matter if he writes another book or not, he is an interesting person and worth being aware of.

In the end, I want to conclude by saying this book was amazing. While I typically tend to gravitate towards science fiction novels, this book read as pure prose and literature. It was stimulating, motivating, and I found myself feeling better about humanity after reading it. I will be excited to re-read this book many times to come. 

4 comments

  1. Your friend got me wanting to read this book :)

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  2. I have not heard of this book before! It osunds great, though!!
    www.amemoryofus.com

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  3. Thank you for this review! I am not usually fond of science fiction either, as I prefer historical novels, but this does sound interesting and my husband would love it...going to order it for him!

    Arianna, Nymphashion ♡

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  4. I have to read that book!!!

    Ana ❤
    aruivablog.blogspot.pt

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Thank you for your comments! I read every single one :]