Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.
It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.
But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
A smart, fast paced, edge of your seat rollercoaster. One man’s struggle, alone on Mars, all odds stacked against him, can Mark Watney survive the inhospitable environment of Mars?
The story opens with a fantastic opening sentence which sets up the rest of this gripping story,
“I’m pretty much fucked.”
As this sentence implies Mark Watney is fucked, thought dead by his crew mates he is now stranded alone on Mars with the left over equipment designed to last thirty one days and his own ingenuity.
Narrated mostly in the first person by Mark in the form of a mission log, one thing that really shines out for me is his amusing persona and wit leading to some laugh out loud moments throughout his story. Well aware of the position he finds himself in Mark is a very organised and calculating individual whose careful planning and resourcefulness might ensure his survival until NASA can be contacted or until the next mission to Mars, four years away.
Using his botany background he is able to come up with plans for food, using his knowledge of engineering and chemistry he is able to provide enough water. These, coupled with the plentiful oxygen supply and endless stream of disco music to keep him entertained, survival doesn’t seem too unachievable. This doesn’t mean that Mars doesn’t have other things in store and with Mark using equipment initially meant for one mission on a daily basis over a prolonged period something is bound to give up.
Although most of the story is told from Mark Watney’s perspective. Andy Weir also includes the viewpoints of those on the ground at NASA, his crewmates, who unknowingly abandoned Mark, news reports and some third person sections which greatly add to the suspense as they describe the consequences of Mark’s actions.
Is it evident that throughout the story the physical and mental strain takes its toll on Mark, leading to moments of utter frustration and moments where you think he might concede defeat to the unforgiving planet, it’s also not just the planet out to get him but also his own human error;
“Mars keeps trying to kill me.
Well... Mars didn't electrocute Pathfinder. So I'll amend that:
Mars and my stupidity keep trying to kill me.”
Even with these blunders, Marks character and his resilience, mental strength and brilliant problem solving skills have you routing for him throughout. This along with his likable persona have you both sympathising with him and hoping that he can survive the punishing situations he finds himself in.
I can’t recommend this book enough. This was a highly believable, intense tale of survival and suspense with humour and wit thrown in, hugely entertaining and I look forward to what Andy Weir releases in the future.