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Review: "The Martian," by Andy Weir

This year has started off with a bang, or perhaps I should say, quite a lift- off. Recommended by my daughter, this book caught me like a gravitational pull and would not let go. Heavy on the geeky, bordering on nerdy, science aspect, and flattened by a somewhat pedestrian sense of dialogue, it still would not let me go and compelled me to read ever faster, not unlike an orbital fly by. Enough with the “space” metaphors. This is a first novel, rejected many times, self-published, sold on line, chapter by chapter, and then picked up by a major house. I understand the slow, circuitous route to publication for this novel. It’s certainly not filled with lovely prose, in fact, it’s rather straightforward and flat (could the author be so wise as to understand that astronauts may very well speak in this manner). It also feels a little measured at times. I also feel that I don’t really know Maark Watney, our astronaut hero. He’s a bit of a cipher. O.K. his parents are worried to death about him but I almost feel like he has no past life prior to being left behind on Mars. Also if the majority of book readers happen to be women, I’m not confident that the average female reader will jump on this book But, and this is a huge but, it plays so well! After you get used to the fact that you are going to hear more about compounds and oxygenation, hydrogen recovery and air seals, this book is incredibly compelling. I have never felt as "inside" “f a space mission in my life. All the films and books and documentaries I have ever read don’t add up to the same intensity and verisimilitude as does this book. Sure, I have to suspend some belief. This is science fiction! This is Mars! But damn it feels real. Sure the likelihood is nearly impossible, our hero would probably have died long ago. Who cares? This is a heroic epic in the tradition of many past books and movies. The odds are impossible. Our hero cannot survive, yet he must attempt to overcome. Written in short, choppy “log” entries it plays fast and quick. When you get toward the last 20 pages I dare you to put it down and step away. Go ahead try. Not going to happen. Isn’t that what you want in a read. November 25th 2015. The movie comes out. I’ll be there.

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