When I picked up Andy Weir’s The Martian after hearing that it was going to be adapted into a film starring Matt Damon, I expected it to follow the same survival story tropes I had seen in so many other books. However, as I read the novel, I was blown away by how captivating Mark Watney’s story was.
The Martian follows Watney as he attempts to survive on Mars for over 600 days after he was nearly killed in a dust storm and abandoned by his crew members who assumed he was dead.
Despite not having any way to communicate with Earth and not nearly an adequate number of supplies, Watney is not willing to give up.
Using his ingenuity, his skills as a botanist and engineer, and his unfailing optimism, Watney attempts to overcome one overwhelming obstacle after another in his fight to stay alive against impossible odds.
One of the most amazing aspects of The Martian is how realistic the story seems, despite it taking place on Mars.
Several times over the course of the novel, I found myself wondering how a real person could have ever survived this before I realized that I was not reading about the adventures of a real person. It only sounded like I was.
I think one of the reasons why The Martian feels so realistic is because it is heavily rooted in science. Every time Watney encountered a new obstacle, he explains the science behind his solution, in simple terms, of course, so that the average reader would be able to understand.
Reading the science behind Watney’s actions makes The Martian seem less like a science fiction novel and as believable as any survival story that takes place on Earth.
It would be easy to assume that The Martian would be a dark and morbid novel given the fact that Watney is stuck in such a serious, life-threatening situation, but the truth is really the opposite.
No matter how hard things get, Watney maintains his quirky sense of humor that actually makes The Martian a light and funny read. Watney never gets his hopes down and those feelings transferred to me as a reader.
Whether a science-fiction fan or not, The Martian is a thrilling novel that will have readers turning the pages to find out how Mark Watney will overcome the next obstacle that comes his way.