He's just so relentlessly cheerful, it's depressing. If I'd been stranded on a planet for 18 months with no company and infinitesimal chance of rescueHe's just so relentlessly cheerful, it's depressing. If I'd been stranded on a planet for 18 months with no company and infinitesimal chance of rescue I'd go batshit crazy - but Mark Watney was always so composed. I wanted to see the character overcome not only the Martian landscape but also his psychological landscape. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read but it was so shallow and matey that it comes across like a boy's own story.
The characters were extremely under-developed. Apart from Watney, everybody was a paper doll. Even then, Watney was a one-trick pony, his sole characterization being that he was irreverently cheeky. I just did not feel any attachment to any of them; even when Watney nearly killed himself or faced a major obstacle, I couldn't summon any sympathy for him.
Like other reviewer's have commented, there have been literally hundreds of similar stories printed before, especially during the golden age of science fiction when technology opened the skies for humanity and space exploration became more science than fiction. Sure, those earlier novels didn't have the hard science that The Martian has, but at least some of them tried to capture the horror and despair of extreme isolation. There's no reason why the author couldn't have maintained the cheeky-chappy humour of the novel and also told the story of humankind's desperate fear of solitude and abandonment at the same time....more