Hype is an interesting phenomenon. As human beings we should know better because we’ve seen hype fail us over and over again. Even when a book, movie or show is good it can still leave a bitter taste when it doesn’t live up to expectations. I should know better.
But fuck it:
My expectations were really high for The Martian and it didn’t help that I had the book sitting on the shelf for over an year. I also delayed watching the movie because I really wanted to read the book beforehand… and then all the positive reviews of the movie just added on top of that.
I also delayed reading The Martian because… chemistry isn’t my strongest subject. I read the first thirty pages and was afraid that my lack of knowledge would hinder my enjoyment (which was silly since I liked what I read so far). So be advised my dear reader, I don’t know if the science is sound and if that matters to you then I would check with Neil DeGrasse Tyson (I’m pretty sure he live-tweeted his viewing of the movie).
That being said, after I read it, I never felt like the science in the book held me back, even though most of my chemistry knowledge comes from Breaking Bad.
With all the science going on the plot of The Martian is pretty straightforward. Mark Watney is accidently left behind on Mars after his crew had to make an emergency evacuation off the planet. To their credit the crew thought Mark was dead, which sadly means for Mark that NASA and everyone else on Earth thinks he is dead as well. Unable to contact Mission Control, Mark is now faced with the realization that he will be stuck on Mars for years.
Thankfully my ass will never be on Mars, because if I were in this story it’d be over right about now. Mark Watney, on the other hand, uses his skills (being a botanist and a mechanical engineer) along with his creativity and sense of humor to tackle everything that Mars sends his way.
Which is a lot. I don’t think Mars likes Earthlings. Personal grudge?
What’s interesting about the writing is that The Martian’s style is completely different from last week’s book, All the Light We Cannot See. The writing is direct, to the point and only elaborates when explaining how Mark is going to get out of a situation. Weir doesn’t waste time on flowery images and gets right to the nitty-gritty.
I won’t give any more details since I don’t want to spoil anything. I think everyone should give this book a try, not only because the protagonist is amazing, but it’s strangely uplifting. Not only does science and creativity win the day, but it shows how the Human Spirit TM has the ability to triumph over insurmountable odds.
Score: Nine Duct Tape rolls… because they are magic.
In The Margins:
- I’ll be watching the movie on Saturday, so if you’re on Twitter watch out for my live tweets!
- The review for the movie will be out on Tuesday. Just in time for me to have watched two of the nominations for Best Picture (better than last year).