I’ve been wanting to read this book since I heard Ridley Scott had been tapped to direct the film, and having finished it, I think he’s the perfect choice. I can’t wait to see what he does with it, and if his film will wrap me up as completely as Weir’s novel did.
Despite being fictional, the book feels so well researched and is so well put together that it feels as if it could take place at this very moment. It also fanned my love for NASA and the desire for more space exploration.
At the story’s center is Mark Watney, a dual specialty (he’s botanist and mechanical engineer) on the Ares 3 mission to Mars. When a storm forces the crew to abort their mission and return to their orbiting ship, the Hermes, their journey back to Earth getting under way. Watney is left behind and though to be dead.
Thus begins an amazing adventure, much like Robinson Crusoe (but not like the film Robinson Crusoe on Mars), that sees Mark fighting to survive, millions upon millions of miles from help. He has power, food, vitamins and water, but even with rationing, there is no way they will last the four years it may take for the next mission to arrive.
Between that, and the need to communicate with Earth, Mark has his hands full, but he has a sense of humor (there are some brilliant lines in the book, and I hope they show up in the film), determination, and hope.
The book slides smoothly from Watney’s log, to the actions of those lives and events that will affect Mark’s. There are people on Earth who discover he is still alive, and are trying to figure out a way to communicate with him and get him home, and there are his crewmates aboard the Hermes.
I got completely wrapped up in Weir’s storytelling, balancing drama with science, hope with frustration, and a pulse-pounding final act that had me turning pages as quickly as I could read them. It’s as grounded in science and reality as it can be, meticulously researched, and each detail only brings the story to life more vividly.
This is one of those books where I no longer felt like I was reading the words when I saw them, but instead, saw everything in my head, playing out as an experience that I got to share in. That’s something the film won’t be able to do for me.
Weir’s The Martian is a fantastic read, and I think, I hope, it will only enhance my viewing of the film when it comes out in October. Until then, it has inspired me to revisit some of those other great dramas following NASA’s exploration – I’ll be watching Apollo 13, From The Earth To The Moon, and The Right Stuff again very soon.
If you’re on the fence about reading the book, take my word for it, read it!! I know some folk are waiting for the movie, but if you’re the type who gets into stories in a big way, check it out before you see the big screen adaptation!
But to tempt you just a bit, here’s the trailer…