The Martian: A Novel (Paperback)

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Book review by Kim Brack: In April, the ABA announced “The Martian” as the Indie Choice Book Award for Adult Debut Book of the Year. There has been a lot of praise and hype around this book since its debut. It’s all well deserved. Instead of being a boring, techy tome, it is a riveting, barnburner of a story.

Mark Watney is an astronaut who has been accidentally left behind on Mars after a sandstorm threatens the Ares3 Crew millions of miles from home. He is seriously injured, separated and because his suit is damaged, the crew sees no sign of life and believes he is dead. The commander has to make the difficult decision to evacuate the rest of the crew.

When he comes to, Watney assesses his situation and declares that he is in trouble. Two words come to mind ingenuity — the quality of being clever, as well as inventive — and resilience — the ability to recover quickly from hardship. He never blames the crew for abandoning him and instead, attacks his problems head on and with humor.

The Martian is brilliantly written. Alternating between the narrative of events on Earth and Watney’s diary-like log entries, the reader desperately wishes to communicate with both. This technique gives the reader his or her own version of intelligence and knowledge throughout a story that is packed with figures and facts. Watney’s log entries feel so real; one can almost hear his voice as though he were speaking directly to the reader. (I listened to and read this book, the reader for the audio is phenomenal!) He remains positive and objective, despite being confronted with overwhelming challenges. The sense of realism is extended throughout the narrative itself, which does not break the spell by inserting needless context; the reader is fully immersed in real-time events.

Apart from the story, which has equal parts action and suspense, resulting in many moments of bated breath, Weir does what many have tried and failed — he makes science sexy. Watney is first and foremost a scientist, and his ability to calculate and experiment throughout the story is not only related in a way that is easy to follow, but it is also gripping. Space stories can be cool, but Andy Weir does more than that; he makes the science behind such stories cool.

The Martian demonstrates that knowledge really is power and that hope can unite not just one nation, but the whole world. The reader is reminded that compassion and the desire for a happy outcome can help accomplish the seemingly impossible. Weir also gives a new perspective on heroism — he presents a man who solves problems while remaining calm and optimistic, despite enormous setbacks. Mark Watney is the protagonist you absolutely cheer for.

A movie based on the book, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, is due for release in November 2015, so read it before you see it.

— From Book review: "The Martian" equal parts action and suspense

I would recommend this in both book and audiobook format. Maybe you know the movie,, but the story of Mark Watney is forever more exciting in its original form. If you aren’t familiar, the story is of a man lost from his crew on Mars. He finds creative ways to stay alive, and the science behind what he does is accurately calculated by Weir. Although this book is fiction, the numbers behind it support an amazing feat of human endurance. You will be cheering for Watney’s safe return, and strong mind and spirit the whole way through.

  • Recommended by Anne

— From April Staff Picks to Warm You Up this Spring!

February 2014 Indie Next List

“This taut, cerebral debut thriller introduces readers to the only kind of alien we have yet to encounter: ourselves. Astronaut Mark Watney is mistakenly left for dead on Mars when his mission companions flee a violent wind storm. His mental and physical struggles to survive are a crash course in botany, mechanics, and the will to endure. This is the compelling space saga that you didn't know you had been waiting for!”
— Zack Ruskin, Book Passage, San Francisco, CA


Selected for common reading at North Lake College 

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue 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 kill 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. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

About the Author

Andy Weir built a career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, The Martian, allowed him to live out his dream of writing fulltime. He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects such as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail. He lives in California.

Praise For…

Brilliant…a celebration of human ingenuity [and] the purest example of real-science sci-fi for many years…Utterly compelling.”--Wall Street Journal

Terrific stuff, a crackling good read that devotees of space travel will devour like candy…succeeds on several levels and for a variety of reasons, not least of which is its surprising plausibility.”—USA Today  

An impressively geeky debut…the technical details keep the story relentlessly precise and the suspense ramped up. And really, how can anyone not root for a regular dude to prove the U-S-A still has the Right Stuff?”--Entertainment Weekly

Gripping…[features] a hero who can solve almost every problem while still being hilarious. It’s hard not to be swept up in [Weir’s] vision and root for every one of these characters. Grade: A.”— 

Andy Weir delivers with The Martian...a story for readers who enjoy thrillers, science fiction, non-fiction, or flat-out adventure [and] an authentic portrayal of the future of space travel.”--Associated Press

"A gripping tale of survival in space [that] harkens back to the early days of science fiction by masters such as Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke."--San Jose Mercury News

One of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time. It feels so real it could almost be nonfiction, and yet it has the narrative drive and power of a rocket launch. This is Apollo 13 times ten.”
--Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Impact and Blasphemy
A book I just couldn’t put down! It has the very rare combination of a good, original story, interestingly real characters and fascinating technical accuracy…reads like “MacGyver” meets “Mysterious Island.”
--Astronaut Chris Hadfield, Commander of the International Space Station and author of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
"The best book I've read in ages. Clear your schedule before you crack the seal. This story will take your breath away faster than a hull breech. Smart, funny, and white-knuckle intense, The Martian is everything you want from a novel."
--Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool
The Martian kicked my ass! Weir has crafted a relentlessly entertaining and inventive survival thriller, a MacGyver-trapped-on-Mars tale that feels just as real and harrowing as the true story of Apollo 13.”
—Ernest Cline, New York Times bestselling author of Ready Player One
“Gripping…shapes up like Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe as written by someone brighter.
--Larry Niven, multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of the Ringworld series and Lucifer’s Hammer

“Humankind is only as strong as the challenges it faces, and The Martian pits human ingenuity (laced with more humor than you’d expect) against the greatest endeavor of our time — survival on Mars. A great read with an inspiring attention to technical detail and surprising emotional depth. Loved it!"
--Daniel H. Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Robopocalypse

“The tension simply never lets up, from the first page to the last, and at no point does the believability falter for even a second. You can't shake the feeling that this could all really happen.
—Patrick Lee, New York Times bestselling author of The Breach and Ghost Country
"Strong, resilent, and gutsy. It's Robinson Crusoe on Mars, 21st century style.  Set aside a chunk of free time when you start this one.  You're going to need it because you won't want to put it down."
—Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The King’s Deception and The Columbus Affair   

An excellent first novel…Weir laces the technical details with enough keen wit to satisfy hard science fiction fan and general reader alike [and] keeps the story escalating to a riveting conclusion.”—Publisher’s Weekly (starred)

"Riveting...a tightly constructed and completely believable story of a man's ingenuity and strength in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds."--Booklist

“Sharp, funny and thrilling, with just the right amount of geekery…
Weir displays a virtuosic ability to write about highly technical situations without leaving readers far behind. The result is a story that is as plausible as it is compelling.”—Kirkus

Weir combines the heart-stopping with the humorous in this brilliant debut novel...
by placing a nail-biting life-and-death situation on Mars and adding a snarky and wise-cracking nerdy hero, Weir has created the perfect mix of action and space adventure."--Library Journal (starred) 
“A perfect novel in almost every way, The Martian may already have my vote for best book of 2014.”Crimespree Magazine

“A page-turning thriller…this survival tale with a high-tech twist will pull you right in.”Suspense Magazine

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780553418026
ISBN-10: 0553418025
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: October 28th, 2014
Pages: 416
Language: English