Rating: 5 Stars
I’m pretty much fucked.
Mark Watney is all alone on Mars. His crew, thinking him dead, had to evacuate in a dust storm. He now faces an impossible task: Survive on the barren wasteland that is Mars. But he will not give up. Drawing on his knowledge, creativity and ingenuity, he will do anything to survive – and get back home.
What I really, really love about this book is that it’s so hopeful. Mark Watney is all alone on a planet where almost everything could kill him. He can’t communicate with Earth or his crewmates. But he doesn’t curl up into a ball and just wait for a quick death. Despite everything that happens, despite everything Mars throws at him, he keeps going.
All around me there was nothing but dust, rocks, and endless empty desert in all directions. The planet’s famous red colour is from iron oxide coating everything. So it’s not just a desert. It’s a desert so old it’s literally rusting.
Not only that, this is a book where there’s no human asshole. The planet’s the antagonist. And back on earth all of humanity comes together to save a single man on a faraway planet. Because they’re human.
If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do. And because of that, I had billions of people on my side.
There are so few books where there’s so much hope, so much decency and humanness. And it’s awesome.
It’s also great to read a novel that’s so science positive. Sure, the parts where he explains the science behind his plans can be a bit long. But it’s also what makes this book great. Because it’s all hell yeah science. Mark Watney saves himself with the power of science and it’s really great.
I tested the brackets by hitting them with rocks. This kind of sophistication is what we interplanetary scientists are known for.
The characters in this book were also amazing. There’s of course, Watney, our fearless protagonist. I loved him. He’s smart and funny and a guy I’d love to hang out with. Everyone needs a friend like Watney.
Yes, of course duct tape worked in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped.
But the supporting characters were awesome as well. For a book that’s mainly about a lone guy stuck on Mars, this book has a vast and diverse cast of supporting characters. And I loved that we got so many different, awesome female characters. I loved Johanssen. I loved Annie’s swearing. And I really, really loved Lewis. She’s a great leader, smart and empathetic. It’s rare to see one like that in fiction.
“All right,” Lewis said. “Looks like we can do it. But I don’t want peer pressure forcing anyone into it. We’ll wait for twenty-four hours. During that time, anyone can change their mind. Just talk to me in private or send me an e-mail. I’ll call it off and never tell anyone who it was.”
If you haven’t already, go and read the book. It’s awesome.