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The Martian

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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?

384 pages, Hardcover

First published September 27, 2011

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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. Andy’s next book, ARTEMIS, is available now.

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Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,311 reviews120k followers
January 17, 2019
I’m pretty much fucked.
Ok, show of hands. How many of you have uttered these exact words? (or words to that effect). Not everyone? I see we have some liars out there. How many have said them at least twice? Three times? Four? Those with hands still up, you probably need to make some adjustments to your approach, find a safer line of work, hobbies that do not entail long drops, stop trying the weekly specials at McBlowfish, or seek out people to date who are into less extreme…um…sports. These are the opening words of The Martian. Astronaut Mark Watney is definitely more screwed than most of us have ever been. Dude missed his ride and there will not be another along for, oh, four years. Supplies on hand were only meant to cover a few weeks, maybe months. And that Martian atmosphere is definitely no fun, lacking stuff like, oh, breathable air, and a reasonable range of temperature. It does, offer, however, extremely harsh (good for scouring that burned on gunk from sauce pans) and long-lasting (as in months) dust storms. And if that was not enough he faces an array of other challenges.

unfriendly locals

No, Kibby (the 12-year-old kibitzer who infects my brain), no Mars Attacks brain beasts, or that other guy, even though I know he is your favorite. Real challenges. For example, the music he has for his stay consists of disco. The viewing options include 70s TV. Most of us might give serious consideration to minimizing the guaranteed pain, frustration, starvation and inevitable death by, maybe, taking a short hustle outside sans that special suit. It would be a very, very short last dance. Watney is either a cock-eyed optimist or an idiot. I'm going with the former, as he is indeed made of the right stuff. He is armored and well supplied with the sort of can-do designer genes that might make the rest of us feel like the can’t-do sorts we are. He is the poster boy for positive attitude. It does not hurt that he is way smart, with expertise in a wide-enough range of things scientific to matter. It does not hurt that he is an engineer who gets off on taking apart, putting back-together, figuring out, thinking through, testing, trying, and pushing envelopes. But his crew is headed home, and what hope is there, really?


The Martian tells of Watney’s attempt to survive in a literally alien environment, using only the tools on hand and his wits. It is a gripping story with one of the most adorable heroes you are likely to encounter, on this planet or any other. (No, Kibby, not a kitten) How could you not root for a guy who scrapes through Thanksgiving dinner for potato parts to plant for food? Of course, one might think “been there, done that,” particularly as 1964’s Robin Crusoe on Mars offered a retelling of Daniel Defoe’s classic tale in a more contemporary notion of a remote locale. A 1905 novel used a different classic traveler in the same sort of format.


Of course those tellings had a lot more in common with the Barsoom of Edgar Rice Burroughs as seen by Frank Frazetta than they do with the vision we have of the Red Planet today, or, say, reality.

Zabriskie Point 612

Or is it?
somewhere out there
One of these was a shot of you know where. The other was taken at Death Valley, which was used, BTW, in the filming of Robinson Crusoe on Mars

Most of the tale is spent on Watney’s very compelling attempt to survive, going through all the challenges he faces trying to make air, preserve and maybe generate water, make his food last, get some sort of communication set up, deal with things like exploding air-locks, biblical level dust-storms, toppling ground-transport vehicles, you know, stuff, most of it life-threatening. The other end of things is how the folks on the ground deal with this GInornous OOPS. There are technical elements, of course but more interesting, for me, were the political considerations. To tell the crew or not? Imagine how bummed out, embarrassed, and guilty you might be on that ship (the Hermes) returning home, knowing you had left one behind. Might it affect your ability to take care of necessary business for the next bunch of months? Another question is whether to tell the public, and if so, when. How about getting help from other space-capable nations? Are any international dealings simple? There is also some in-house (NASA) staff maneuvering that is wonderful to see.

Andy Weir

In her fabulous book on writing, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott writes
Having a likeable narrator is like having a great friend whose company you love, whose mind you love to pick, whose running commentary totally holds your attention, who makes you laugh out loud…
Probably the greatest strength of The Martian is the narration of Mark Watney. He is engaging and funny, optimistic and capable. I suppose there are some who might find him lacking in sharp edges, but I thought he worked great.

Matt Damon as Mark Watney, enjoying the view – from the film.

The new earth-based shooting location was Wadi Rum, Jordan. I am sure they did plenty of color adjustments in post, but boy-o-boy does this place look like an alien landscape.

Yes, really, there is too much scientific detail. It is not that it is beyond the comprehension of a lot of readers (although it will skip by a fair number) it is the share of time, the number of pages, the sheer volume of obstacles to be overcome, and the very detailed explanation of so many of them that tilts the book a bit too much towards the MacGyver demo. Weir writes very well about the other elements of the story. Repetition of DANGER, WILL ROBINSON, with the subsequent amazingly clever repair du jour, does get a bit old after a while. I had to fight an urge to scan at times.

But that is really it. Otherwise, The Martian is an absolute delight to read. Watney is lovable as well as capable, and makes excellent use of his sense of humor to look on the bright side of life, in a very dark circumstance.

Whether he makes it out on time or not (not gonna spoil that one) you will cheer him on, hope for the best, and fly past those pages with considerable, if maybe not interplanetary, speed. Is there life on Mars? There will be while you read this book.

Review posted – 1/16/15
Updated and trotted out there again on release of the film - 10/2/15
This review has been cross-posted on my site, Cootsreviews.com

Publication date – self-pub in 2011 – Bought, edited and published by Crown 10/28/2014

PS - Saw the film on 10/9/15 and it kicks ass! Go see it if you haven't already. It is very true to the book, with the improvement of not getting bogged down in details, has a great cast, looks amazing and does a fantastic job of promoting science.

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal and FB pages.

5/24/16 - Weir wrote a short story prequel to The Martian, called Diary of an AssCan. I posted a review this week. It includes a link to the story, so you can read it for yourself.

Andy Weir’s second novel, Artemis, while, IMHO, not quite up to this one, is also pretty darned good.

August, 2016 - At the Hugo awards Weir wins the John W, Campbell award for best new writer, and the screenplay for the film wins for Best Dramatic Presentation, long form

The Martian Chronicles on Gutenberg

Gullivar of Mars by Edwin Lester Linden Arnold on Gutenberg

For a real Martian experience check out NASA’s Mars page

For a realer Martian experience, and ideal for those trying to keep one step ahead of creditors and/or the law, you might want to consider applying to be on a Mars mission, no joke. There is more on this project below but the above link is for the selection process, just in case you don’t mind a strictly one-way journey.

A nifty article from the NY Times (10/5/15) about the woman at NASA responsible for seeing to it that we do not bring Earth germs you-know-where - Mars Is Pretty Clean. Her Job at NASA Is to Keep It That Way. - by Kenneth Chang

I bet you thought I’d forgotten these guys. No chance! I just ran out of time to figure out how to stuff them into the review. So, sorry, I am stuffing them here. That sounds so wrong.

If you want to experience Mars while still on earth, it is indeed possible


A general National Geo article on Mars

Planetary.Org has an excellent list of all Mars missions to date, and some that are in process

When you are checking your ancestry some of that unusual DNA might come from a place, far, far away. Two scientists look at the unfortunately named notion of Panspermia, which addresses the possibility that the genesis of life on Earth had its opening act elsewhere.

If you want to know Who goes to Mars for the waters, the answer is yes

And speaking of Eau d'Ares, a nifty article on the presence of H2OMG you know where, in the 9/28/15 article in the NY Times - by Kenneth Chang. Thanks to my pal, Henry B, for this refreshing item.

8/31/16 - Another recommendation from the intrepid Henry B. Planning any long trips, HB? - How to Win Friends and Influence People (on Fake Mars) by Katie Rogers
- New York Times

Downhill streaks indicate water has flowed - image from NY Times who got it from NASA who got it from JPL

Here is a nifty article from The New Yorker, on work being done to cope with inter-planetary cabin fever. Moving to Mars: Preparing for the longest, loneliest voyage ever by Tom Kizzia - from the April 20, 2015 issue

9/12/16 - If, like Quint, you think we're gonna need a bigger boat, to get to Mars that is, Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin company may have just the thing - Meet New Glenn, the Blue Origin Rocket That May Someday Take You to Space - By Daniel Victor for the New York Times

9/27/16 - New York Times - Elon Musk’s Plan: Get Humans to Mars, and Beyond - by Kenneth Chang

10/25/16 -National Geographic is producing a documentary series about our favorite red-tinted neighbor (no, not the lady across the way who got too much sun. Put those binoculars away NOW). Coverage in the latest issue includes a whole passel of things Martian. Enjoy. - Mars: Inside the High-Risk, High-Stakes Race to the Red Planet

From the August 2017 National Geographic - This Is What a Martian Looks Like—According to Carl Sagan - By Natasha Daly

Painting by Douglas Chaffe - from the above NatGeo article

9/17/17 - Washington Post re-printing an AP story - Mars Research Crew Emerges After 8 Months of Isolation - Caleb Jones

12/16/17 - NY Times Sunday Review - Tim Kreider offers his take on why we should go Red - Earthlings, Unite: Let’s Go to Mars

5/4/18 - NatGeo - Interesting piece on the latest Martian explorer, Insight - Are Marsquakes Anything Like Earthquakes? NASA Is About to Find Out - by Nadia Drake

Illustration of Insight deployed - Photo by Lockheed Martin, NASA, JPL-Caltech

All right. We’re all done now. You’d better get going or Marvin will lose his cool


Oh, sorry Marvin, just one more thing, lists.

Abbott and Costello go to Mars
The Angry Red Planet
Bad Girls From Mars
The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars
Capricorn One
Devil Girl From Mars
Empire of Danger
Escape From Mars
Flight to Mars
Ghosts of Mars
Invaders from Mars
The Last days on Mars
Lost on Mars
Mars Needs Moms
Mars Needs Women
Mission to Mars
Race to Mars
Red Planet
Red Planet Mars
Robinson Crusoe on Mars
Rocket Man
Roving Mars
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
The Terror from Beyond Space
Total Recall

TV Programs
Is There Life on Mars – PBS
My Favorite Martian
Life On Mars – British
Life on Mars – American
Mars One – Proposed - (check this one out)
Race to Mars

2312 – Kim Stanley Robinson
The Barsoom Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs
----- A Princess of Mars on Gutenberg - and my review
-----The Gods of Mars
-----The Warlord of Mars
-----Thuvia, Maid of Mars
-----The Chessmen of Mars
-----The Master Mind of Mars
-----A Fighting Man of Mars
-----Swords of Mars
----- Synthetic Men of Mars
-----Llana of Gathol
-----John Carter of Mars
Blades of Mars – Edward P. Bradbury
C.O.D Mars – E.C. Tubb
The Caves of Mars – Emil Petaja
Children of Mars – Paul G Day
City of the Beast – Michael Moorcock
The Daughter of Mars – Thomas Keneally
The Empress of Mars – Kage Baker
First on Mars – Rex Gordon
Icehenge – Kim Stanley Robinson
Life on Mars – Jennifer Brown
Life on Mars (a different one) – Jonathan Strahan
The Long Mars – Terry Pratchett
Mars – Ben Bova
Mars is my Destination – Frank Belknap Long
Mars Plus – Frederick Pohl
The Mars Trilogy – Kim Stanley Robinson
-----Blue Mars
-----Green Mars
-----Red Mars
Marsquakes – Kevin F. Owens
The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury
Masters of the Pit – Michael Moorcock
Moving Mars – Greg Bear
No Man Friday – Rex Gordon
Old Mars – George R.R. Martin
Packing for Mars – Mary Roach – ok, not a novel
Podkayne of Mars - Robert Heinlein
Prelude to Mars – Arthur C. Clarke
Priests of Mars – Graham McNeill
The Road to Mars – Eric Idle
The Sands of Mars – Arthur C. Clarke
Sebastian Of Mars – Al Sarrantino
Shadow Over Mars – Leigh Brackett
Sin in Space – Cyrill Judd (Cyril M. Kornbluth and Judith Merril)
Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein
Urania – Camille Flammarion
White Mars – Brian Aldiss
Profile Image for Yun.
522 reviews21.8k followers
May 3, 2023
A celebration of scientific ingenuity and man's unfailing spirit to survive, The Martian left me astounded and exhilarated. It made me laugh, think, and hope, and along the way, it captured my imagination and my heart.

Due to a freak accident, astronaut Mark Watney is in a bit of a jam. His crewmates have blasted off from Mars and left him behind, thinking he is dead. Now he has no way to contact anyone and his supplies are fast dwindling. To survive, he must reach into the depths of his scientific knowledge and creativity and good humor, and put all that to good use if he is to make it off the planet alive.

I'm like the very last person to read this book, and I honestly have no idea why I waited so long. Maybe I thought since I've seen the movie already (like a dozen times!), that I wouldn't be surprised by the book. Or maybe I was afraid it wouldn't live up to my sky-high expectations. But I'm so glad I finally stopped procrastinating and read it. Because this story could not be more made for me if it tried.

Right from the first page, it was utterly riveting and unputdownable. It felt so real that it seemed like I was actually reading the mission logs of an astronaut. I kept forgetting that we hadn't really sent a man to Mars yet and that this is just a story.

The science in here is a large part of what made it feel so authentic and fascinating. It's based on real science, not the handwavy stuff that a lot of sci-fi books resort to. But you don't have to understand every single thing in order to follow and enjoy the story. In fact, there were a few times I just move on when I wasn't 100% clear on a technical detail, and it didn't take anything away. It helped that I had watched the movie before reading the book, so it was much easier to visualize what was going on.

Usually when you think of disaster stories and fights for survival, it ends up being a dark and brooding read. But that's not this book at all. I loved its optimism and humor and charm. It was lighthearted and fun even though it was tackling some serious problems. It not only showcased what one person's perseverance can accomplish, but also what the world can do if it came together. It made me feel happy and inspired to immerse myself in this imaginary and cooperative world, if only for a few hours.

This story isn't perfect. You can tell it's Weir's first book, and so it does have a few quirks. At times, the humor is a bit too potty-mouthed and the technical and scientific information can be a bit too enthusiastically detailed. But I found the overall story so amazing that these small flaws are easily overlooked.

This is my favorite type of book. I love reading about space exploration and science, courage and hard work, and overcoming great odds to achieve the impossible, all with a sense of humor. Its message of resilience and optimism through the hardest of times pays homage to the best in humanity.

See also, my thoughts on:
Project Hail Mary

This was a pick for my Book of the Month box. Get your first book for $5 here.
Profile Image for Davy-Gravy.
21 reviews75 followers
March 13, 2014
Unpopular opinion time: I don't like how this book is written. Watney's journals read like a nerdy blog rather than a dramatic survivor's diary. It's hard to find something harrowing and traumatic when the protagonist is saying "yay!" a lot and making incessant corny puns. "3.6 pirate-ninjas!" "Yay oxygen!" "Lol gay probe lol!!!!!1!" "Bad rover, no Scooby snack!!!111!" "LOL craaaaaaap!!1!" For me, those aren't funny, they're almost embarrassing.

No matter what horrible thing is happening to Watney, he's sure to pull though, but not before laying a smug, cutesy zinger on us. It sucks all the tension out of any situation, which is the complete opposite of what I want in a book that's supposed to be a thriller.

Now, don't get me wrong, Andy Weir is a great technical writer. When Watney isn't being a wacky douche, he's going on and on about some technical or mechanical or biological process that, with me not being a scientist, usually goes over my head. And that's fine, I have no fault with a book that's factually complicated like that. In fact, it's really admirable and cool that Weir is able to pool all of his expertise into a book about survival on Mars.

That being said, other aspects of the book suffer. According to the author's bio on the back of the book, Andy Weir "was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight." If I can stereotype here, it shows. My guess is that he doesn't really know how people behave or interact in the real world. The dialog is stilted and awkward. The characters are all one-dimensional and flat. They almost seem like an afterthought. The emotional and psychological trauma rendered by all these near-death experiences and complete and utter isolation? What trauma? There's no mention of that anywhere. Watney is apparently that cool and awesome of a guy, as evidenced by all his canned laugh track one-liners and grating sarcasm.

But hey, maybe that doesn't bother some people (obviously, considering that people actually watch The Big Bang Theory), and they're in for a technologically-driven, "funny" space-thriller. Because I have to admit, it's a terrifyingly cool premise. It just wasn't what I was expecting. I was hoping for an emotionally-taxing, horrifying, survival drama, but instead got a cutesily witty astrophysics manual. Just because something is nerdy doesn't automatically mean that it's good.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
January 2, 2015
First off, welcome to 2015!

Let's kick this year off with a review of a book about a guy who deserves to survive more than anyone I've ever known. This book has been lurking around in my Goodreads feed, gaining hype, and all the positive reviews from my friends eventually got too much for me - so I had to check this out for myself. I'm glad I gave in.

The Martian has so many good things going for it. First and foremost, it is a classic tale of survival against very huge odds. In this book, Mark Watney becomes one of the first people to walk on Mars but after an accident causes him to be believed dead and abandoned by his crew, it looks like he will be the first person to die there. Like Cast Away x a million, Mark must battle extremely foreign territory, the likelihood of starvation, and the possibility of technical failures.

It's pretty hard to see an outcome where he isn't totally screwed.

The best thing about this book is the juxtaposition between the very scientific nature of everything Mark must do to survive - gave me a renewed level of respect for how damn smart astronauts have to be - and his absolutely wonderful personality. Mark maintains his sense of humour throughout every hardship he faces - it's pretty much impossible to not be charmed by him.

Here are some quotes:

“The screen went black before I was out of the airlock. Turns out the “L” in “LCD” stands for “Liquid.” I guess it either froze or boiled off. Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”

“As with most of life's problems, this one can be solved by a box of pure radiation.”

This book is part "serious" science-fiction, part an hilariously dark comedy that imagines a horrifying situation infused with humour and the overwhelming human desire to stay alive. It's hard to imagine that anyone who picks this up won't find themselves dragged into Mark's world, desperately needing to know what will happen to him.

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Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,233 reviews1,048 followers
October 11, 2014
'Crap! My astronaut crewmates accidentally left me behind on Mars! I'm fucked! I'm going to die! Oh wait! I just thought of something highly logically unlikely and technically complicated, that I am sure to pull off without a hitch, because did I mention that I am Plucky and Ingenious? It sure is a good thing that I am super-talented! Yay! That worked! I'm not dead! [Next chapter] But wait! Disaster has struck! Shit happens, when you're stuck alone on Mars. Whatever shall I do? OMG, I just had a great idea! It's a good thing I'm so naturally optimistic, because it sure would make for a bummer book if I ever showed any signs of being depressed or having any kind of mental deterioration after spending nearly two years in total solitude! Nah, I've got the fightin' spirit! I can create a life support system out of duct tape! What does Mars actually look like? Is there anything interesting from a scientific perspective about it? Who cares! I'm busy growing potatoes in shit and watching Three's Company! Did I mention that disco sucks?'


For a while.

I do not get the hype.
Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 260 books409k followers
July 24, 2015
Adult science thriller.

Love it, love it! A meticulously researched, briskly paced and surprisingly funny story about an astronaut left behind on Mars, presumed dead, who must now figure out how to survive and let the folks back on Earth know he is alive and needs rescue. This is hard-science science fiction. Parts of it read like really complicated (but amusing) word problems, juggling mass and time and weight, etc. But all of that adds to the realism. You can tell Andy Weir loves his space exploration and knows a ton about it. He totally had me convinced, anyway. The Martian is a fast read, and the main character’s irrepressible sense of humor will have you cheering for him as he tries to survive against impossible odds. I will also never eat another potato again. (Long story.) If you’re looking for a fast-paced, believable space adventure set in present day, this is your book.
Profile Image for Wil Wheaton.
Author 91 books204k followers
July 28, 2015
I have never wanted so badly for the characters in a book to be real. I want to meet them all the way I want to meet the president, or Taylor Swift.

This story is perfectly told. It is perfectly paced, it is brilliantly written, it is beautifully crafted.

Andy Weir does this incredible thing where he make the reader feel the isolation that Mark Wagner feels, and he does it so subtly, we don't even realize that he's doing it until it's done.

The Martian completely captivated me. I couldn't wait to find out what happened next, and I never wanted it to end.
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
July 22, 2015
I'm so happy that I randomly decided to pick this book up! I did find that the story dragged a bit towards the end and some of things went over my head a little bit, but for the most part this was a fantastic read!
Profile Image for Nataliya.
785 reviews12.5k followers
April 25, 2023
2014: Sometimes I'm lucky enough to come across a book that makes me go all Whee-heeee! with the sincerest glee rivaling that of over-sugared-up kids about to open Christmas gifts.
“I can't wait till I have grandchildren. “When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!”
A book that makes me willingly turn my chronically sleep-deprived state into the acutely sleep-deprived one as I battle somnolence at 4 a.m. so that I can read just *one more* chapter (we all know how that one chapter somehow turns into a dozen as the sunrise starts lurking outside the window).

A book with the sense of humor that is a perfect match for my own (the one that occasionally causes some serious eyebrow-raising from my colleagues).

Meet The Martian by Andy Weir. The book I want to marry and have dorky wisecracking grandchildren with.
“So that’s the situation. I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last 31 days.
If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.
So yeah. I’m fucked.”

Mark Watney is an astronaut who is an engineer AND a botanist. He was the 17th human to set foot on Mars, and the first human to be abandoned there after being mistaken for dead. There's no way in hell he has enough supplies to last until a dubious chance of rescue (if NASA even figures out that he in fact is very much not dead). In a situation like this, I'd crap my pants and become breathing-challenged.
“Mars keeps trying to kill me.
Well... Mars didn't electrocute Pathfinder. So I'll amend that:
Mars and my stupidity keep trying to kill me.”
Mark, however, embarks on the determined survivalist adventure unrivaled since the time of Robinson Crusoe (and lacking the blatant and now painful colonialism of Defoe's protagonist). Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids, sure - but it may be just the kind of place to raise a few potatoes and fix up a few Mars rovers.
“I told NASA what I did. Our (paraphrased) conversation was:
Me: “I took it apart, found the problem, and fixed it.”
NASA: “Dick.”

Faced with a disaster after disaster, he beats all the odds and finds ways to survive in a true MacGyver way, using his brains (stuffed with all kinds of science, of course) and a few cosmic supplies. And duct tape. Can't forget the duct tape.
“Also, I have duct tape. Ordinary duct tape, like you buy at a hardware store. Turns out even NASA can’t improve on duct tape.”

“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
MacGyverism is great, yeah. But what makes this book my literary soulmate and more addicting for me than a bag of crack laced with meth and sprinkled with chocolate (or whatever the drugs of choice may be now) is Mark Watney's near constant wisecracking that is EXACTLY the humor I *get* and I (sadly, perhaps) inflict on others.
[NASA guy on Earth]: “What must it be like?” He pondered. “He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?”
He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”


How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”
Ah, the sheer awesomeness of dorky humor peppered with bits of science that probably would work if used by someone who, unlike me, was a bit more experimentally-engineering inclined. Ah, the silly lowbrow puns that never fail to make me chuckle. Ah, the deadpan humor that never gets old. Ah, the beauty of never taking yourself too seriously. Mark Watney, you are my literary soulmate.
”I tested the brackets by hitting them with rocks. This kind of sophistication is what we interplanetary scientists are known for.”

“Ruining the only religious icon I have leaves me vulnerable to Mars Vampires. I’ll have to risk it.”

“They say no plan survives first contact with implementation. I’d have to agree.”
No wonder Mark Watney can call himself the King of Mars. And even better:
“Here's the cool part: I will eventually go to Schiaparelli crater and commandeer the Ares 4 lander. Nobody explicitly gave me permission to do this, and they can't until I'm aboard Ares 4 and operating the comm system. After I board Ares 4, before talking to NASA, I will take control of a craft in international waters without permission.
That makes me a pirate!
A Space Pirate!”
So yeah, this book struck a perfect chord with me. It seemed to have somehow been written just for me, since of course I'm clearly the most important thing since sliced bread, or however that saying goes. All I know is that a book I read twice in three days is perfect for me.

5 stars.
“Yeah. This all sounds like a great idea with no chance of catastrophic failure.
That was sarcasm, by the way.”

2021: I still love every page of it.
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
437 reviews4,274 followers
August 12, 2023
Mark Watney is having a very bad day. He is on the third mission to Mars when his crew, presuming he is dead, leaves him behind. How will Mark stay alive?

After reading Project Hail Mary, I just had to give this a go. The prose is non-pretentious and fun. However, I felt like this was the warm-up novel for Project Hail Mary. The book seemed a bit off in its pacing. For the first 25% of the book, there were too many calculations. As the book progressed, it became funnier (ugh that’s a weird word). Additionally, this book seemed very unemotional. Mark never talks about the things that he wouldn’t get to do if he died, and he does not ruminate on any of his Earthly friendships. In Project Hail Mary, the funny started much earlier, and it pulled on my heartstrings a bit more.

Fun tip: If you get the audiobook, there are some bonus chapters including somewhat of an epilogue.

Overall, a really solid book, but if you are short on time, try Project Hail Mary.

2023 Reading Schedule
Jan Alice in Wonderland
Feb Notes from a Small Island
Mar Cloud Atlas
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Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books249k followers
November 11, 2019
 photo Mars_zps149150c8.jpg

”So that is the situation. I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last thirty-one days.

If the oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the water reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yea. I’m fucked.”

When I read the line “kind of explode” I couldn’t help thinking of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Total Recall, face contorted, eyes bulging as the oxygen deprived atmosphere of Mars was about to detonate his head.

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I’ll wait for the next mission to a blue planet thank you very much.

Mark Watney, Mars astronaut, has a lot to worry about. It is hard to say if he has more to worry about than Douglas Quaid/Hauser (Arnold’s character in the movie). At least he doesn’t have people trying to kill him on Mars. In fact, when his fellow astronauts left he effectively became:


It might be the shortest reign in history.

”Mars keeps trying to kill me.”

He amends that thought with:

”Mars and my stupidity keep trying to kill me.”

Watney is far from stupid. He scavenges like a futuristic version of Robinson Crusoe from the left over debris of the Hermes crew’s hasty departure. The incident that “ended” Watney’s life had them in a panic.

”Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

He finds a whole memory stick of seventies sitcoms to keep him occupied and more importantly stuff to keep him alive.

Watney becomes the first farmer on Mars. He knows he doesn’t have enough food to last until the next mission to Mars is scheduled so he has to improvise. Luckily the crew was to be there over the Thanksgiving holiday and for morale purposes NASA sent along potatoes with those all important eyes intact.

”My morning piss goes in a resealable plastic box. when I open it, the rover reeks like a truck-stop men’s room. I could take it outside and let it boil off. But I worked hard to make that water and the last thing I’m going to do is waste it. I’ll feed it to the water reclaimer….

Even more precious is my manure. It’s critical to the potato farm, and I’m the only source on Mars. Fortunately, when you spend a lot of time in space, you learn how to shit in a bag. And if you think things are bad after opening the piss box, imagine the smell after I drop anchor.”

When he finds a way to communicate with Earth in one of his more spectacular MacGuyver moments they tell him that he is going to have to drive to another site where there is a rocket ship, already delivered, waiting for the next mission. He will drive on terrain that looks like this:

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The ship is in Giovanni Schiaparelli’s crater. Watney being Watney has a few juvenile observations about his arrival at the crater.

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”Tomorrow night, I’ll sink to an all-new low!

Lemme rephrase that…

Tomorrow night, I’ll be at rock bottom!

No, that doesn’t sound good either….

Tomorrow night, I’ll be in Giovanni Schiaparelli’s favorite hole!

Okay, I admit I’m just playing around now.”

The science is unbelievable and since Andy Weir was a fifteen year old prodigy and is obviously still extremely bright in middle age I have to believe him that he has this all figured out. Watney injects humor as he explains his innovative scientific brilliance which at times had my eyes glazed over trying to keep up. So even as you are getting overwhelmed by the science Weir will elicit an eye roll from the more sophisticated reader. He might even inspire an outright chortle if you are of the low brow variety of humor lovers. I must be more of the pan-humor variety as he elicited a wide range of sniggers, snorts, and raised eyebrows from me.

”I tested the brackets by hitting them with rocks. This kind of sophistication is what we interplanetary scientists are known for.”

The one thing that might save your life on Mars, Earth or any other planet you might want to visit is something that NASA didn’t invent.

“Also, I have duct tape. Ordinary duct tape, like you buy at a hardware store. Turns out even NASA can’t improve on duct tape.”

Watney worships duct tape and given the hairbrained ideas he puts into practice he needs miles and miles of it.

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It turns out duct tape has a variety of uses for providing additional support. We are such an ingenious species.

Weir convinced me that Watney could live on Mars for over a year while awaiting rescue. With mangled equipment, a harsh unforgiving terrain, and the ever present, one more thing going wrong, depression that Watney has to overcome everyday, this reader started feeling the pain of failure and the elation of success right along with him. As the world learns he is alive humanity began rooting not for the American to live, but for the human species to triumph.

In the 1970s when I was old enough to watch what NASA was doing and marvelled at our ability to do the impossible. It was a time when absolutely anything seemed achievable. We’d had leadership that insisted that we needed to go to the moon. We still built things, now it feels like the monuments of our times are being built other places. I do think we all miss having a common goal. Something that we all feel we are a part of, something larger than ourselves. With a space program gutted and the idea of a manned mission to Mars staggeringly expensive it makes me realize how lucky I was to grow up in a time when it really felt like the impossible was possible. I’m probably the last of the optimists who still believes that we have to go see it; we have to put our footprint on it; we have to scatter our debris around and say ‘yes we were here’. We need a Mark Watney to be lost on Mars so we have something to cheer for that brings us together as a species.

Besides book reviews I also have started writing movie reviews. These can be found at my blog http://jeffreykeeten.com/
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
554 reviews60.6k followers
January 3, 2019
This is by far my favorite (and most listened to!) audiobook.

If you're still thinking about reading it, just do it.

If you're in a slump, just do it.

If you've seen the movie and aren't sure if it's still worth the read, just do it.

You won't regret it!

Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
June 19, 2018
i have finally seen the movie, so i added some notes at the bottom.

this book is basically just a really long SAT question. and i so hope the movie is just matt damon sitting at a table doing equations for two and a half hours.

oh but first, as promised, here are the photos of me being an astronaut this past weekend.

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i am orbiting the eeeeeeaaaarttthh!!

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i did a really good job at astronauting and i didn't need to do math even once! (although i started experiencing cramped space-madness after about 6 hours, so i doubt i'm going to mars anytime soon.)

so many people i know LOVED this book. and so many people i know HATED this book. and as is usually the case with rabidly divisive books, i find myself smack in the middle, perplexed (but pleased) by the passion on both sides. it's a fine book - a pretty good balance of things i enjoyed and things i enjoyed less.

things i enjoyed less:

the reason i don't read a lot of sci-fi is because my grasp on sci is pretty slippery. and this book is one long celebration of math and chemistry and physics and etc. and also airlocks. i don't like airlocks. which is a weird thing to not like, i suppose, but the same way Moby-Dick; or, The Whale bored me when melville fangirled over rope for a million pages, this one izza lotta descriptions of spacecraft bits and the mechanics of airlocks and stuff that's wicked important if you are being an astronaut but is boring to me reading about it and i totally glazed over whenever anything had to be secured onto an airlock and depressurized.

but what's really frustrating is that for all the attention to detail/accuracy when it came to the math (i assume/i trust), the book's pretty flippant with the psychology. watney is all relentless optimism and unflagging "can do" attitude and dick jokes, with very few signs of depression or fear that isn't phrased in the form of a joke. weir tried to blanket over this "lack of meltdown" with that brief mention that watney is the class clown whose jokiness becomes heightened under stress, but seriously - there are more tears in any given episode of project runway than in this book about a man abandoned on mars and left completely alone for 2 years facing ever-escalating dangers and setbacks.

and the writing is definitely problematic. there is so much repetition, and so many times watney starts off a paragraph with "remember" as in "remember when i mentioned this-and-that?? well, now it is coming back into play in this situation razzmatazz!" it's not great for narrative flow, and it's a little insulting to assume your readership can't remember things that happened during the course of the book. and this tic is doubly perplexing when you "remember" (remember???) that watney's entries are ostensibly directed at other astronauts/scientists who wouldn't need science explained to them, and certainly wouldn't need the prod to remember it.

the ending is bad and too abrupt. there's not much else to say about that.

but there are also things i enjoyed:

i love survival books, so all the high-stakes DIY macgyver "lemme fix it with glue!" stuff was entertaining, when it didn't require me to recall stuff i learned failed to learn in high school. i also love lateral thinking puzzles, so i appreciated watney's process of arriving at unconventional solutions to problems i will never face. bonus points for when the fix was some unpretty punk rock janked-up solution, especially when it freaked out the scientists on the ground. and i like watney's blithe attitude - to a point -

To them, equipment failure is terrifying. To me, it's "Tuesday."

i preferred it when he was being cowboy-practical to when weir was forcing the humor. which - i know a lot of readers have a problem with the quality of the humor, but as someone who says "that's what she said" pretty often daily, the juvenile nature of the humor didn't bother me, and i did giggle at his consumer review of his laptop:

Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.

but it just felt like wherever weir could stick a joke, he'd stick a joke, and it became over-bedazzled with humor. although, considering this book treats watney's situation as reality t.v. for those still on the ground, and reality t.v. tends to amplify its participants with "must be entertaining at all times" fervor, this isn't entirely inappropriate after all.

another frustration i had was how much i enjoyed all the stuff that was happening on the ground and in the Hermes. it was much more interesting than equation-boy and his boob-doodling, and it was better-written: the humor was more successfully integrated, the characters were more convincingly human, and that's frustrating because it shows he can do it. so that's a "thing i enjoyed" buried under a complaint, i guess. but i did genuinely enjoy all the non-mars scenes, and when it would cut back to watney, i would groan like it was a bran chapter in ASOIAF.

so that's me: middle-of-the-road karen who sees the book's flaws, but mostly enjoyed reading it.

tl;dr: a fun book interrupted by math.


so, i saw the movie a couple of days ago, and i can finally weigh in on a comparison of the two. i'm definitely glad i read the book first, but at the end of the day, i'm not sure if there's an answer about which is "better."

book wins:

some of my favorite harrowing "OH NO" moments from the book did not make it into the movie (like that sudden realization which sends him scurrying outside for a long time), and also some of my favorite solutions were absent (hair). and while there were way fewer perilous moments in the movie, there was a zillion times more emotional response to the problems that did occur. which is points for realism, but watching people cry or otherwise emote on the big screen is as boring and time-wasting as reading about math, so one negates the other. but overall, the most interesting stuff got cut from the movie - stuff on mars, stuff on hermes, stuff on ground, etc.

movie wins:

having a montage to look at while math goes on and on in a voice-over is way more interesting than me kidding myself reading the math paragraphs several times like suddenly i'm gonna get it. also, matt damon delivers the jokey bits in a way that seems natural, and there are fewer jokes overall. (although in some cases, they cut the wrong ones. #aquaman) and i guess that iron man scene. that was pretty cool.

so it's kind of a tie. the movie is basically the cliffs notes version of the book - it gives you the basic gist of it, but you'll miss out on some really great scenes if you are like "book??? too boring tl;dr." and if you just read the book you won't get to see the airlocks in all their glory.


i want to see this movie, but i know it'll kill my motivation to read the book, so it looks like this puppy is gonna have to be my airplane book this weekend. as a bonus, with my window seat i can pretend that i am an astronaut myself, albeit a really incompetent one.

i apologize to my seatmates in advance.

 photo IMG_9807_zpsm0xqu7vk.jpg

book - check
astronaut ice cream pellets - check

and off we go!

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Stepheny.
381 reviews545 followers
March 31, 2015
Thank god that's over.

Everyone has been talking about The Martian. And I literally mean everyone. Since the moment I saw the cover and the raving reviews I knew I had to pick it up. There’s a reason people are talking about this book.

I just don’t fucking get it.

I think I am the only person on GR to give this pile a one star rating. I’m ok with that. This is a classic case of- it’s not you, it’s me.

I wanted desperately to fit in with the Goodreads community and love the shit out of this book and start farting rainbows every time I saw the title. Unfortunately I was not blessed with a Science Brain and this book went far over my head. My brains were floating in outer space waiting patiently to be brought back down. I think they’re still up there somewhere because I can’t for the life of me understand why people find this book is so awe-inspiring.

I loved the concept. Mark Watney gets left in space by accident. His crewmates think he’s dead and they take off for home. But Mark is not dead. He’s very much alive and he knows his shit. Boy, does he know his shit. He knows it so well he can’t wait to tell you about it in lengthy detail. He goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on…

Oh, I’m sorry. Forgot you were reading.

When it comes to Sci-fi I need it to be just enough detail to get me by. There’s a fine line that needs to be walked between vague and in-depth. Andy Weir was in so much depth I think he might be in the wrong career all together. In fact, Andy, if you’re reading this, why don’t you go apply for NASA. Clearly your brains are far superior to my own. Just for the love of god, don’t write another book.

Ok, that’s rude, I’ll admit. Next time you write a book though, I will politely pass it up and save myself the time and effort all together.

I listened to this book on audio and the narrator did a great job telling a boring story.

I kept waiting for something awesome to happen. What exactly, you ask? Well, I don’t know….but with a name like The Martian; I guess I was kind of hoping our MC would discover life on Mars. Or he would maybe figure out a way to live on Mars permanently-becoming the Martian himself. No such luck. Just boring tales of growing potatoes and drinking urine while listening to Disco music.

It takes quite a bit for me to give a one star rating. I read because I love books. I almost always find redeemable qualities in a book but I was counting down until this one was over. The Martian gets one star for the concept behind the story. That’s it. For all of you science lovers- I’m glad you enjoyed it. This book was just not for me.

Profile Image for Petrik.
689 reviews46.2k followers
May 4, 2023
I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/petrikleo

This is my 500th review!

4.5/5 stars

I have to admit, I didn’t expect I would have such a great time reading this book, but The Martian, somehow, became one of the most enjoyable sci-fi books I’ve ever read.

“I guess you could call it a "failure", but I prefer the term "learning experience".”

As I mentioned several times across my reviews, if I’ve watched a movie/TV series adaptation—that I loved—based on books first before I read the book, there’s a good chance that I might find the reading experience inferior because I already know how the story will go; the same situation goes for the other way around, too, of course. Usually, this is countered by beautiful prose or incredible characterizations/details that the movie/TV series omitted. Now, The Martian doesn’t have what I’d consider memorable prose, but the engaging narrative and the charm of the main character was more than sufficient to thoroughly hold my attention. Remembering that the The Martian used to be an unknown self-published novel and looking at how successful it is now, I think it’s safe to call The Martian as one of the biggest success stories in self-publishing history.

“I don’t want to come off as arrogant here, but I’m the best botanist on the planet.”

The Martian is a survival story, and what made it such an incredible book? Mark Watney and its pacing. Mark Watney, oh Mark Watney, what an absolutely delightful human being. Think about it, this is a story about someone being stranded on Mars all by himself. Not on a deserted city, not on a deserted Earth, but on Mars. Handled by a different author, this premise could’ve easily become a grim and bleak novel. But not The Martian. Even knowing the outcome of the story didn’t affect my enjoyment; Watney’s positivity and attitudes are intoxicating. We often hear advice that says a positive mindset brings positive results. And the positivity in Watney’s character in the face of constant danger despite the terrifying premise made this such an accessible book by the mass population.

“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”

I seriously laughed several times when I’m reading this book; that doesn’t happen frequently. I feel like comedy is one element that’s insanely difficult to pull off right in a novel. For the majority of the time, I find humor in novels much more effective when they’re actually balanced with intense and serious moments/events. This is something that Andy Weir executed magnificently in The Martian. Watney is resourceful, he’s determined, he’s hopeful, and the balance between tension and humor was brilliant. The result? A narrative that’s so equally entertaining, hilarious, intense, and compelling that even all the sci-fi jargons became so much fun to read.

“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”

Yes, worship the duct tape; they can fix almost everything.

There were instances where everything just felt so believable that I forgot I was reading science fiction. It’s a genuinely good feeling to read a book that lives up to all the praises; it seems like it doesn’t happen too often to me anymore lately. The Martian is easily one of the most wonderful sci-fi I’ve ever read; intense, funny, believable, and relentlessly captivating. Whether you’ve watched the movie adaptation or not, and regardless of what you feel about the movie, I still highly consider you to read this book.

“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.”

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Profile Image for Carmen.
2,067 reviews1,906 followers
March 29, 2016
How can I say this to you? This is one of the most boring books I've ever had the displeasure of reading.

I was really looking forward to reading this book. Everyone was so enthusiastic about it. I was saving it for myself as a little treat.

By page 27 I knew I was in trouble.

Here's the book:

I'm fucked.

Oh, wait! I have an idea!

Science, science science. Then if I science science science, science.

Great! [Insert lame joke here].

Now imagine this repeating 1,000 times.

Watney's stranded on Mars - there's no one there for him to interact with. Also, he's apparently a person with no human feelings. Seriously. There's no doubt, worry, fear, anger or despair - even though he's stranded on a desolate wasteland and his death is imminent.

Weir doesn't even make an ATTEMPT to channel human emotions at any point in the novel. I don't know whether this is because he is a terrible author, struggles with lack of feeling himself, or, what I most suspect: that this is an extremely intelligent man's daydream about how someone could survive on Mars and NOT a novel. The book is like a science textbook with random lame jokes sprinkled on top. NO - more as if someone had asked Weir to write a thesis on how to survive on Mars, and yet allowed him to throw in as many "fucks" and lame jokes as he wanted. Whichever it is, it wasn't what I would consider a novel.

Then, you have Earth. What is going on there? We have multiple people on Earth. Perhaps these people will provide us with the dialogue and human emotion I'm craving.

Mmmmm-mmmmm, nope. This is how Earth goes:

PERSON A: Science science science.

PERSON B: Well, my theory is science science.

PERSON C: We'll have to do science science science.

PERSON A: Fuck you!

PERSON B and C: Working for the government sucks, ha ha ha.

That's it. That's the riveting emotion you get here. Not even a semblance of any human relationships or interactions that aren't based on scientific discussions.

I was attached to and cared about exactly zero people in this book. I didn't care if Watney lived or died. I didn't care if the people on Earth discovered he was alive or not. I didn't care. Nothing Weir wrote made me feel anything for anyone in this novel.

I'm willing to bet that Weir is a very intelligent man and a great software engineer. But he's NOT a great author. This book was horrible. I could have easily and happily DNFed at any point in this book. The only reason I made myself finish it was so that I could write this review and express my opinion as someone who had read the whole thing.

Tl;dr - Boring, bloodless and completely devoid of any humanity. A textbook with some jokes scattered here and there. I can completely understand why my engineering friends IRL are going apeshit for this book, however, it holds no appeal at all for me.

The movie, even if it sucks, will most likely be 10x better than this. There's no possible way it could be worse.

Famous last words, Carmen.

LOL We'll see.
May 12, 2014
I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m fucked.
If you think about it, Robinson Crusoe is kind of a whiny pussy, I say, while sitting in my plush computer chair, with a bar of 72% dark chocolate resting atop my glass of port. Surviving on a deserted island? Easy shit. Crusoe's got all that fucking water, plenty of good carbon-based animals for the eatin', and all those coconuts growing on tree. And here I am, having to actually go to Whole Foods to buy my fresh, young coconuts and having to pay for extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil!

Look at all the motherfucking trees! See all the moist, fertile soil?! What kind of a survival scenario is that, anyway?!

Surviving on a deserted island? That's easy shit. Try surviving on another planet. Namely, Mars. I love a survival premise...but one on another planet? A science fiction book, no less? Um. I don't know about this.

As it turned out, all my fears were wrong. This book was fan-fucking-tastic.

It is filled with humor, it's got a adequate depiction of science that wouldn't confuse a layman like me (not sure how technically correct it is, but it sounds adequate to me, and while I'm not a scientist, neither am I a moron), it's got diversity and female scientists, the narrator is this brilliant genius while having the humor of a 17-year old DotA gamer/frat boy. I absolutely loved him. I wanted to marry him.

I'm fairly good-looking. I'm single. Can someone send this type of engineer my way, please?

The not-so-good: character development (the MC is altogether too optimistic and cheerful), the scientific details can be too much, and this book is really, really fucking long. It's realistic, because it takes a long fucking time to get shit solved, but it lost my attention sometimes.

The Summary:
I’m pretty much fucked.

That’s my considered opinion.


Six days in to what should be a greatest two months of my life, and it’s turned in to a nightmare.
Yep. That he is. Mark Watney, botanist, mechanical engineer, participant in the fledgling Ares program to send humans to Mars, is royally screwed. Shortly upon his arrival to Mars with his crew, his "MAV" ("Mars Ascent Vehicle") got blasted with Category 5 hurricane winds, and with no other choice, the crew had to hightail it out of there.

Sounds like a plan. Except Mark didn't get out when he should have.
It was a ridiculous sequence of events that led to me almost dying. Then an even more ridiculous sequence that led to me surviving.
There was an accident involving lots of blood and a punctured suit (fuck), and long story short, the crew left without Mark, believing him dead (fuck).

Mark isn't dead, but he's stranded on Mars and everyone thinks he's dead. So that means he's as good as dead himself. The good thing is that he's not an idiot. Mark's been given medical training (boom, stitches for his injury) by NASA. They don't send untrained idiots on board a mission to Mars. He's also trained in mechanical engineering, and he got his undergraduate degree in Botany. Pretty stupid, when it's like, a fucking mission to Mars, right? I mean, who the fuck would need to plant anything on a hostile planet? As it turns out, botany is more useful for his survival than you would think.

Because now that he's alive and back in the Martian Habitat (the "Hab"), Mark's got to set out a plan for survival. He's realistic about his situation. He's really, really fucked. But all is not lost, he's still got the Hab. Inside the Hab is a good quantity of food, it's an enclosed environment. Mark can stay alive for some time. He's got enough food to last him about a year.
We were six days in when all hell broke loose, so that leaves enough food to feed six people for 50 days. I’m just one guy, so it’ll last me 300 days. And that’s if I don’t ration it. So I’ve got a fair bit of time.
He's got enough air from the Oxygenator. He's got power cells. He's got enough water from the Water Reclaimer. The trouble is that the next mission to Mars isn't coming until four years. Mark's got to stay alive until a) they come or b) he manages to communicate with Earth. Clearly, it's a better idea to try and communicate with Earth so they can come get him.
But if I could communicate, I might be able to get a rescue. Not sure how they’d manage that with the resources on hand, but NASA has a lot of smart people.

So that’s my mission now. Find a way to communicate with Earth. If I can’t manage that, find a way to communicate with Hermes when it returns in 4 years with the Ares 4 crew.
Priority right now: get enough food to last four years. That's a whole lot of calories to generate from nothing. But hey, here's where his botany degree comes in handy!

Mark needs to do a lot of things, but priority #1: grow some potatoes in his Hab.
Remember those old math questions you had in Algebra class? Well, that concept is critical to the “Mark Watney doesn’t die” project I’m working on.

I need to create calories. And I need enough to last four years. I figure if I don’t get rescued by Ares 4, I’m dead anyway. So that’s my target: four years.
It's not a foolproof plan.
I have an idiotically dangerous plan for getting the water I need. And boy do I mean *dangerous*. But I don’t have much choice.
In fact, it's downright fucking dangerous at times.
As you can see, this plan provides many opportunities for me to die in a fiery explosion.

Firstly, Hydrazine is some serious death. If I make any mistakes, there’ll be nothing left but the “Mark Watney Memorial Crater” where the Hab once stood.

Presuming I don’t fuck up with the Hydrazine, there’s still the matter of burning hydrogen. I’m going to be setting a fire. In the Hab. On purpose.

If you asked every engineer at NASA what the worst scenario for the Hab was, they’d all answer “fire.” If you asked them what the result would be, they’d answer “death by fire.”

And thus we watch the Mark Watney show as he struggles to grow potatoes on Mars and create water out of thin air. And it's really, really thin air, BECAUSE IT'S MOTHERFUCKING MARS.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, all is not lost! A glorified photo technician (ok, she's got a master's in Mechanical Engineering, but all she's doing for NASA is looking at pictures) finds some odd signs on Mars. Shit's there that wasn't there before. It's not Martians, so it's gotta be Mark. He's alive! Sound the bells! Hallelujah! Well, shit, now how do they get him out of there? How do they communicate when there's no way of communicating? Will Mark be able to survive before NASA comes to rescue him? Will NASA be able to find a way to communicate with Mark?
“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?”

He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”


How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.
The Setting: Well, it's Mars. What did you expect? There's um, craters, dry dust, and more craters and more dry dust. Just kidding. We spend most of our time within a contained environment, and to be honest, it's not that important. What makes the setting believable is the science that's presented to us, in entirely layman's terms. There's a lot of concepts to understand, and Mark does a fantastic job of breaking science in a way that makes it feel real while making it credible and easy to comprehend.
I’m going to use the RTG.

The RTG (Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator) is a big box of Plutonium. But not the kind used in nuclear bombs. No, no. This

Plutonium is way more dangerous!

Plutonium-238 is an incredibly unstable isotope. It’s so radioactive that it will get red hot all by itself. As you can imagine, a material that can literally fry an egg with radiation is kind of dangerous.
I'm a fan of science, but I avoid the hard shit when I can. I'm not the smartest person in the world, and technicalities beyond the basic grasps of physics, chemistry, and biology hurts my head. I can understand science. I just choose not to sometimes, and I avoid the cold, hard technical stuff when I can. I can break down most of the basics (like a truly laughable dystopian global-warming scenario) but anything more than that taxes me. Look down upon me if you will. I had no problems understanding and believing any of the scientific concepts in this book. This book may use science extensively, but it is so well-described and so well-drawn and explained that it doesn't feel like a science-fiction book at all.
I'm turning my pee into rocket fuel. It's easier than you'd think.

Urine is mostly water. Separating hydrogen and oxygen only requires a couple of electrodes and some current. The problem is collecting the hydrogen. I don't have any equipment for pulling hydrogen out of the air.

If I survive this, I'll tell people I pissed my way into orbit.
The humor:
I chipped his sacred religious item into long splinters using a pair of pliers and a screwdriver. I figure if there’s a God, He won’t mind, considering the situation I’m in.

Ruining the only religious icon I have leaves me vulnerable to Mars Vampires. I’ll have to risk it.
Mark is a damned funny narrator. This may be projection, but I see a lot of my own personality and humor in him. I'm such a humble person, aren't I? He's just like me, only wittier, funnier, smarter, and 1000x more brilliant. But I'm prettier, so I'm sure that makes us just about even.

There's a lot of geeky jokes, involving NASA's tendency to overspend on, well, just about everything.
One thing I have in abundance here is bags. They’re not much different than kitchen trash bags, though I’m sure they cost $50,000 because NASA.
And computer-related jokes that might go over the heads of people who don't fuck around with computers for fun.
"We updated Pathfinder’s OS without any problems. We sent the rover patch, which Pathfinder rebroadcast. Once Watney executes the patch and reboots the rover, we should get a connection.”

“Jesus what a complicated process,” Venkat said.

“Try updating a Linux server some time,” Jack said.

After a moment of silence, Tim said “You know he was telling a joke, right? That was supposed to be funny.”
The Character Development: This is one of my few complaints. Mark is incredibly cheerful, and this is very hard to believe. He is fucked, but he makes a joke out of it. This might work, except that for almost the length of the entire novel, he is constantly funny and optimistic about it. He jokes about his own death. He jokes about the fact that he might end up a a handful of dust on Mars. Everything is humorous, and I like it, because I love his humor, but it doesn't make him a believable character.

I wanted to see his despair. I wanted to feel his loneliness. I wanted to see him suffer, to FEEL him suffer because it's a really, really fucking screwed up situation. Mark's attitude makes him a fun character to read, but it doesn't make him feel realistic.
[12:04]JPL: We’ll get botanists in to ask detailed questions and double-check your work. Your life is at stake, so we want to be sure. Also, please watch your language. Everything you type is being broadcast live all over the world.

[12:15]WATNEY: Look! A pair of boobs! -> (.Y.)
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,865 followers
February 13, 2022
McGivering ones´ way through the space Robinsonade with full focus on fun, celebrating science, nerdism, and the extra trope vitamins fight against time, poopy DIY, and rescue mission

The love for science
The authors´ affinity for science drops from every page and is combined with definitively very fine plotted, interwoven tech plot arcs, making protagonist(s), story, and world one astonishing unit. Weir said in an interview that what he enjoys most about being a writer is doing very detailed research about all the hard science he shovels into each chapter, which results in even many gags, accidents, and almost catastrophes being based on wrong calculations, forgotten physics, or just sheer bad luck. Fusing theory and practice, cold math, and real results, makes the complex technical and physical details much more understandable, especially when it includes unwanted slapstick stunts with a touch of black comedy because it's nearly fatal.

Immense concentration of greatness in a very small space, I hope it won´t explode
I can´t believe how short this thing is, it´s so densely packed with all that makes sci-fi great, one sometimes finds in books or even parts of series combined to not close that quality with lengths and stuff. But Weir even puts in some, seemingly, essential human needs such as social interaction, the badass protagonist Chucks away like if it was nothing. Unrealistic? Nope, it just depends on character, each introvert balancing on the thin, red line towards the autistic spectrum will fully agree while extroverted human lovers may find it unlikely that there aren´t more mental issues. As so often, it´s the subjective perspective that counts most.

Its place in the big sci fi picture
It´s doing an immense job in spreading the sci-fi genre, although people reading it might expect something completely different from it than it usually means, especially not being that accessible, funny, and easygoing. Sci-fi is often more exposition with the length of an average novel, complicated concepts interwoven with different fractions and protagonists, and sometimes a struggle to keep following the plot and understanding the science and meta political economic ideological in world constellations and real world implications and innuendos, not to speak of inside gags aimed at the target audience. I guess that´s the reason why some sci-fi prone readers don´t appreciate The Martian as much as sci-fi rookies who are still open minded and not that picky about defining the rules and possibilities of the genre.

Funny as heck while doing edutainment
As so often in funny as heck satires, the first person perspective adds the extra layer of making fun of oneself, something impossible with the more widespread third person perspective. Our protagonist doesn´t just make the reader giggle, but motivates himself with cynic pragmatism while giving the rest of humanity watching his endeavor hope with his optimism and jokes. It´s great for learning too, because a relaxed and happy mind integrates the shown science much better than one bored out by clunky hard sci-fi or school.

This isn´t your average sci-fi book and why Weirs´second novel Artemis didn´t live up to the expectations of broad parts of the audience while Project Hail Mary did.
As mentioned in the big sci-if picture department, it´s far too accessible and easy to read for that genre. That´s, I guess, the reason why people expected a second Martian and were disappointed when they got Artemis, that is more of what sci-fi readers are used to, using more of the common tropes and conventions sci-fi heads love, while others might shy away from the reduced usability by far more complex storytelling.

These groundbreaking new and old voices of sci-fi are so amazing
Just as Jemisin, Chambers, Butler, Okorafor, etc. Weir is reinventing the genre in ways one could have found much earlier, but didn´t, showing the immense potential of the best genre to rule them all, especially when made science fantasy or social sci-fi. Hard sci-fi, cyberpunk, and dystopic subgenres maybe not so much, because these exhausting and depressing subgenres just can´t get so many readers motivated to consume them and will never have the same impact as the funny, optimistic, utopic genres, especially some space opera series by Banks and Hamilton who find the perfect balance between world and characters, and even often cross that border and unite them to one, amazing overkill.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
469 reviews3,258 followers
September 27, 2023
You are an astronaut, the immensely able Mark Watney with a great, glamorous job until stranded through a freak accident on the desolate, airless, extremely cold red deserts of Mars in the mid 2030's a powerful dust storm has apparently killed...the five others in the crew ( originally four men and two women including the commander, Melissa Lewis) they barely escape themselves, with their lives, now up into orbit in a small spacecraft rejoining the massive, very expensive Hermes vessel on a long, sad voyage of hundreds of days back home to Earth, its ion engines slowly accelerating in limitless, merciless space leaving their dead companion behind, a shame but nothing can change this fact except that Mark is still alive...The lone not badly wounded spaceman regains consciousness, sees a frightening sight...he's all alone on the vast planet and says I'm pretty much screwed, ( admittedly not an exact translation) the castaway repeats this frequently in the story. Abandoned by his friends little hope to survive, 31 days of supplies left either starve or run out of air no more communications with NASA possible, slowly waiting to die...but Watney will not lay down and expire gently into the night, darkness will be postponed for now as his fertile, brilliant mind keeps working after all he's the fix it man, a mechanical engineer nothing will faze him, Mark with his rather macabre sense of humor, wishes it were true. Planting potatoes in his "Hab" he's a botanist too, ( the best on this planet as he jokes) growing them, a big harvest and yet soon loathing how many can you eat without vomiting... Making water and air repairing anything he views (leaks are fatal here ) especially the Mars Rover, so he can transverse the eerie, lonely, empty nevertheless quite fascinating and attractive, sandy, landscape with dangerous, broad craters...exploring in complete stillness makes for an uneasy journey, no sounds either... find what will be useful his goal, Pathfinder many thousands of miles from his Martian base . This ancient robot craft an old relic, is found miraculously though now communication with Earth and NASA , ( they knew earlier by the orbiting satellites, he was still alive) can be reestablishes, at last...navigating by the tiny, strange nearby Martian moons and stars above, the helpful clear brownish skies at night, keeping constantly busy the next scheduled spaceship back here, by the American space agency brings him depression... four years away...grim Mark thinks...Disaster follows disaster, anything that can will break, mistakes are made by the intrepid but somewhat clumsy spaceman, yet Watney can never succumb until he breathes his last mouthful of air. Deep inside his intelligent brain something occurs, hope...One of the greatest most entertaining science -fiction books ever written, for any reader who wants to travel to another time and exotic place, be thoroughly mesmerized, turn the next page and discover the continuing adventures of a man who never quits. Required reading by new NASA astronauts, the American Space Agency loved this novel, so did I. ....P.S. the film is magnificent also...thank you, Robinson Crusoe.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,521 reviews9,017 followers
January 6, 2015
How many exclamation points can you shove into one book?

Time to start off 2015 with an unpopular opinion: I did not like how Andy Weir wrote The Martian. He writes science well, and his background in research and technical prose shows, but by page 100 the style of the book got repetitive. Watney discovers a problem. Watney worries for a sentence or two. Watney comes up with a solution. Watney enacts the solution with minimal struggle. Watney celebrates. Rinse and repeat.

I also have no idea how Watney even operates as a character. His way-too-frequent exclamations (yay! yay! yay!), his somewhat offensive commentary (please do not ever use "rape" in a joking context), and his lack of introspection left me bewildered. His rampant optimism felt unrealistic in the context of his situation, and Weir developed his other characters in a similar one-dimensional, stereotypical, and disappointing way. I kept asking: does anyone feel traumatized by this at all? Do any of you suffer from any psychological repercussions of having a teammate or a coworker or an admired astronaut left behind to die? Even the dialogue came across as too-good-to-be-true, with every conversation ending on a neat note that made me roll my eyes.

I have no doubt that the movie of this book will succeed, or at least it will feel more natural than its source. My overall thoughts on The Martian center on its lack of introspection and repetitive descriptions of action, its disconcerting lack of characterization, and the drought of struggle each of the characters underwent. Watney faces a difficult situation, but I at no point in my entire reading thought he would suffer, based on his Pollyanna tone. However, I would still recommend this story to those who enjoy sci-fi or find its synopsis intriguing; my review rests in the minority.
Profile Image for Beverley.
64 reviews50 followers
August 4, 2015
If The Martian isn't a million dollar blockbuster in the next 5 years, Hollywood have missed a treat. I read the entire thing in one sitting, making it probably the best way to pass 8 hours that I can think of. Maybe it helps that I came to the book with no expectations, except the hope that I might get my next 'fix' for my inner space geek.

Well, what a fix! The story is a fast-paced, compelling adventure across Mars and offered everything I wanted and more. I was behind Mark Watney the whole way, from the moment he wakes up alone with his crew gone, to his eventual rescue attempt. It helps that Mark is a great character with a hilarious internal dialogue, I warmed to him quickly and found myself rooting for him as I turned the pages.

Yes, this book is sciency, but it needed to be. That's what makes it feel so authentic. It's the kind of book I'd like my future children to read, to help them understand the importance of science. It offers a perfect demonstration of how something seemingly dry and theoretical can have practical applications, and even save your life.

This book isn't for everyone, there are no little green people roaming the surface of Mars or any Roland Emmerich style hi-jinx, so leave your fantasy head at home. But if you like your sci-fi realistic and plausible then you're in for a real treat.

I'm not in the habit of giving 5 star reviews out often, The Martian really is something special.
Profile Image for Navessa.
Author 11 books7,646 followers
April 15, 2018
If The Martian was marketed as a prescription drug…

Every year, thousands of critical readers around the globe roll their eyes in frustration at the science fails they find within their favorite fiction genres.

Extreme cases of literary frankenscience carry the risk of full-blown ocular gymnastics on the part of the reader. As a result, serious injury has been reported, to include corneal abrasions, iritis, and sprains of the lateral and medial rectus muscles.

Luckily, there is a cure.

The Martian, consumed in single doses, has been clinically proven to reduce the instances of ocular wounds in critical readers, especially those familiar with orbital dynamics, physics, chemistry, biology, and common fucking sense.


The most common side effect from reading The Martian is emotional instability brought on by rapid changes in the reader’s mood as they follow the daily mission logs of the main character, Mark Watney, and his struggle to survive on a planet that humans clearly have no business being on.

Other common side effects include drowsiness due to lack of sleep from being up until four o’clock in the fucking morning because you couldn’t put the book down because things keep happening and JESUS CHRIST, HOW HASN’T HE DIED YET, as well as pain. This pain was typically caused by unintentional headdesking while at work the day after because you didn’t get any sleep the night before and were therefore rendered borderline-narcoleptic.

In extreme cases, more severe side effects have been reported. The Martian is not recommended for those suffering from high blood pressure, as the reading of this book may aggravate this condition and lead to a sometimes fatal response known as A FUCKING HEART ATTACK.

Those with diagnosed addictive personalities should not read The Martian, as it has proven in clinical trials to be highly addicting. The Martian also carries a risk of withdrawal symptoms, the most common of which is a general malaise and apathy for the real world and everything in it.

The Martian may worsen some medical conditions, especially during the withdrawal stages as you move on to other, less well-researched literary works, to include:
- Irritability that you can’t find a decent sci-fi book to save your life
- Irritability that some authors seem too lazy to even use Google
- Irritability that some authors think they can make up their own laws of motion
- Irritability that no one seems to realize how differently EVERYTHING works in zero-gravity
- Basically irritability in general when reading other “science-heavy” books

You should not read The Martian if you have a known allergy to science. Those who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should not read The Martian if they in any way fear that the amount of calculations within it might somehow turn their unborn fetus into a socially awkward math freak.

The Martian, like seemingly all prescription drugs, should not be read if you are currently taking an MAOI, as this can cause vaguely-worded, but serious, life threatening…things.

The Martian has been approved for the use of critical readers by the FDA, the PFC, the WHO, the CDC, and the CQQ (okay, I’m just making shit up at this point).

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Profile Image for Anne.
4,065 reviews69.5k followers
June 30, 2021
Has anyone not heard of this book yet?
I see one hand up there towards the back! You! Yes, the one next to the potted fern.
Ok. Well, then this review is for you. Everyone else, feel free to hit the buffet!
Pile your plate high! I've been trying to get rid of that seafood salad for a few days...


Does The Martian really need one more glowing review?
No. No, it does not.
But I'm going to do it anyway. Because even though I'm the last person on the planet to read this one, I still feel the need to put in my two cents worth.


So this is set in the very near future, when manned missions to Mars are somewhat commonplace, but not all futuristic and cool. The technology is much like moon landings...just farther away. Nobody watches the launches anymore, and nobody remembers who the crew members are anymore.
But everything changes when a freak accident strands astronaut Mark Watney on Mars.
In a crazy-bad storm on the surface, Watney gets stabbed with flying debris, knocked away from his crew, and his suit's vital readings flatline. They're forced by the storm to abandon the mission, and head home weighed down with the knowledge that their friend and crew member was dead.
The memorial service on Earth for Mark was lovely.


Except he's not dead. Due to some sciency mumbo-jumbo, his suit sealed itself around his coagulating blood, and he wakes up all alone on a planet that's determined to kill him.
However, he's a really smart boy with a good sense of humor, and those two things carry him through the rest of the story. He knows that another mission is scheduled to land several years down the road, and after getting to (relative) safety inside this dome/tent/trailer-thingy, he starts hatching ways to survive until they can arrive.


Ok. Science isn't my strong suit. I'm not even going to pretend to tell you I understood much of anything Mark did to survive. And the downside of someone like me reading a book like this is that there's A LOT of it that blew over my head.
Garble-mumble molecule + Mumble-garble molecule = Fizzy-pop molecule
Which means Mark survives for another day!



Between the science (damn you, smart people!) and the diary/log way that most of this story is written, you'd think I would've hated this sucker. But I didn't! And part of the reason may have been because it's not an overly long book. I picked it up, was hooked by the first few pages, and ended up finishing it in 2 days. Watney is an accessible character that made me giggle, and I was rooting for him for his entire journey.


So, yeah, I'd recommend this one.
It's a smarty-pants book even us dummies can read & love!
Plus, he uses duct tape. Proving, once again, there's nothing you can't do as long as you have that stuff.

Profile Image for Claudia Lomelí.
Author 8 books76.9k followers
April 9, 2020
10/Agosto/2015: Woa.

Neta yo pensé que Andy Weir era un científico o químico o ingeniero O TODO ESO AL MISMO TIEMPO. ¡PERO NO! WOW, ese hombre me tiene impresionada con todo el research que hizo para poder escribir este libro (que aún no termino, me falta poco).

11/Agosto/2015: ¡Terminé y estoy impresionada!

Decir que me encantó es poco. A partir de la mitad, el libro me mantuvo emocionada EN TODO MOMENTO (y al borde de un colapso nervioso). Terminé extasiada, me fascinó. Lo más loco es que es un libro muy... científico. Todo el tiempo parece que te están dando una clase de química o ingeniería, pero Andy Weir se las arregla para hacerte reír en el momento más oportuno (e inoportuno también), ¡en verdad me reí como loca en varias ocasiones!

Amé mucho a Watney, pero amé más al crew de Hermes: Martinez, Johanssen, Vogel, Beck, Lewis, ¡son unos genios! Y pff, la gente de la NASA también se ganó mi corazón: Venkat, Teddy, Mitch...

No es un libro para todos, pero a mí me ENCANTÓ. Bravo. ¡Ya quiero ver la película!

PD: Estoy entre 4.5 y 5 estrellas, porque sí tuvo partes muuuuy técnicas que batallé mucho para comprender (creo que no las llegué a comprender del todo, la verdad, hahaha).
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,142 reviews3,565 followers
February 16, 2015
Mission Control to Reviewer One...

Reviewer One, here. Go ahead, Mission Control...

Lift off minus fifteen. Final Systems Check...

Roger, Mission Control...

Characters... Go...

Story... Go...

Style... Go...

Overall Reading Experience... Go...

Roger, Reviewer One. All Systems are Go. Iniating Countdown.

Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two!...

One! Lift off! We have a lift off!...

Welcome to CNN's Reviewer One Report. Presented to you thanks to the sponsorship of "The Martian"'s Quotes...

No plan survives first contact with implementation.

CNN: In your words, please tell us what do you think about the characters on The Martian?

R1: The characters is a strong element on this novel. There are several minor characters with really great moments like Rich Purnell and Mindy. Also the Hermes' crew is absolutely great. However, the main character, Mark Watney, while at first was quite great, at the end, it's a pill hard to swallow since it's like a weird combination of Einstein and Seinfeld. He recites too much scientific facts, math stuff, etc... in the middle of humoristic remarks. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the effort of making this story as realistic scientific possible but sometimes was like wanting to read a novel but ending with a college book. I am a Trekker geek/NASA fan, so technobabble is part of my life but even so, it came a moment in the novel that I wished that the author didn't explain me with so many details how all that was going to work and just do it! Also, while funny at first, I started to get pissed with Watney for his recurrent complains about entertainment material of his fellow crewmates. Everybody was able to pack laptops and/or USB drives with their own TV series, books and music, so why didn't you do the same Watney? If you are so brilliant to make so many repairs and adaptations, why didn't pack your own entertainment material of your preference and stop complaining of what other people likes?

We will be back after this quote...

Turns out even NASA can't improve on duct tape.

Welcome back to CNN's Reviewer One Report.

CNN: What do you think about the story on the novel?

R1: The premise of the story is a powerful one and quite attractive to get readers. It's amusing that on the synopsis is compared with "Apollo 13" meets "The Castaway". I guess that the author was already trying to get Tom Hanks for the imminent film adaptation. However, I think that this is much like "Gravity" taking the next step in difficulty. Sandra Bullock is left alone around orbit of Earth and trying to get back to the planet. Here, Mark Watney is left alone on Mars and trying to get back to Earth. I loved the tension on "Gravity" but you are only viewing the angle of Bullock, so I appreciate a lot that in this story after some chapters with only Watney, you starting to get chapters of what is going on back on Earth, in NASA, and also with the crew of the Hermes. Even better that the story involves the Chinese Space Program denoting that not only NASA is our only chance to get to the final frontier as a global society. That was vital to keep me hooked to the book.

We will be back after this quote...

My asshole is doing as much to keep me alive as my brain.

Welcome back to CNN's Reviewer One Report.

CNN: What do you think about the style of the novel?

R1: I like it since the author alternates regular paragraphs of text with some enhanced text simulating the communication used through electronics. If I have to criticize something, I humbly think that the use of flashback wasn't of my taste. I love non-linear stories, but here, I think that it could be better to introduce the whole crew and then knowing who is left behind, also, some "flashback paragraphs" inserted explaining in a slowly way how things that they were made will cause troubles on the story were unnecessary.

We will be back after this quote...

Astronauts are inherently insane. And very noble.

Welcome back to CNN's Reviewer One Report.

CNN: Closing our interview, what was your overall reading experience with the novel?

R1: I think that it could be quite better with fewer pages and/or less too much detailed explanations full of scientific facts impossibly to retain in your head. Also, after several twists and trials, you get to a point in the reading where the ending became predictable so, you still get to read a lot of pages just to confirm what you know has to happen or the whole novel would be a failure. Also, thinking about that subliminal obsession of having Tom Hanks in the stellar role, well, I think that one should add "Saving Private Ryan" since the premise here is the same of impossible to believe. On "Ryan", you have to believe that the US Government did the math that one mom between thousands had lost all her sons but one, so the Allied Forces will authorize a whole squadron to get out of the battlefield to one non-relevant soldier. Here, on The Martian, you have to believe that it's okay to spend hundreds of millions of dollars just to save one man's life. Even the author made a speech justifying that exposing that there supposedly billions of people who thinks that it's okay that. I think that that's the "illusion of control". You get better with yourself since your government was able to save one single life in another planet spending hundreds of millions of dollars while every single day, hundreds of people die for wars, hunger, crime, domestic violence, etc... around this world, but in that way we all can sleep at night. And don't get me wrong. I am a supporter of the Space Program but if shit happens, well, I don't think you should spend hundreds of millions of dollars in a diaper, or we won't be able to grow up as humankind and exploring outer space.

If I get left behind in another planet, don't worry for me, I will do a schedule to read books, watching films and TV series as much as possible the food, water and air may last and then I will take the lethal morfine shot. Sure, since I am Catholic, I don't know how I will get through Customs at Heaven but at least I wouldn't worry of being the reason of using hundred of millions of dollars that they may be used to take care for a lot of more people than only me.

Now that NASA can talk to me, they won't shut the hell up.

Nuff' said. Now I´ll shut up.

Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,638 reviews34k followers
January 9, 2015
4.5 stars This book is nothing short of spectacular. It is insanely well-researched, and it's impossible not to be charmed by Mark Watney's hilarious sense of humor, or jeez-MY-brain-is-filled-with-absolutely-useless-information-impressed by his smarts, ingenuity, and spirit.

I will say that after a few chapters, I started skimming some of the more technical parts of what he was doing to survive. I normally love this stuff, and certainly I absolutely DID enjoy much of what was here and sincerely appreciated the amount of research and experimentation that went into his Mark's scientific calculations. But there is a lot of it, hah, and I started feeling a little antsy, even with the irrepressibly funny narrative. SO MUCH MATH.

Fortunately, the POV then switches and we start seeing what's happening on the ground and other places. The action-packed plot is streamlined and exciting, the characters are memorable, and overall, the writing is immensely engaging and entertaining.

Highly recommended if the summary intrigues you at all, and obviously a must read if you're a fan of science fiction or survival stories. And the ebook's only $2.99 right now! That's a fucking bargain for the amount of awesome crammed into these pages.

So impressed this was a debut--I hope we get many more books by this author in the future. And this is going to make one hell of a movie.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.7k followers
February 16, 2019
in honour and respect of the recent news that NASA rover, opportunity, has been officially declared dead after 14 years of being on mars, i finally wrote a review for this book. too soon? lol.

i actually really enjoyed this story, a lot more than i thought i would. i was convinced the hype was going to be misleading, but i was so pleased to find out it wasnt.

knowing absolutely nothing about planetary science, physics or botany, i have no idea if this story is plausible, or even accurate in the slightest. but you know what? i was highly entertained, and thats all that matters. this book is so funny and witty and has the right amount of humour to distract me from the highly stressful situation. because i know if i was mark watney, i would basically be thinking, ‘well, this is how my life ends, i guess.’ this isnt your classic adventure story, but it sure is a wild ride.

ps. RIP opportunity - you were the true martian.
and because space is cool, here is a link to all the stellar things opportunity saw during its time on mars.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,608 reviews5,998 followers
November 29, 2014
Mark Watney. I just can't even tell you how much I love this character. I think he may just be on the list of my favorite male characters ever. The dude is stranded on Mars..with no one. Does he cry? Well, only sometimes. Does he fight against the planet from hell? Heck yes!

Everywhere I go, I'm the first. Step outside the rover? First guy to every be there! Climb a hill? First guy to climb that hill! Kick a rock? That rock hadn't moved in a million years!

I did get lost in some of the science of this book..but who cares? I might have learned something. If I ever get trapped on Mars I would probably die in 2.5 seconds. I do have confirmation on something that my husband tells me constantly. Duct tape fixes everything!

Mark Watney is full of snark and is probably the smartest character I've even had the pleasure of reading in a novel. He does find himself trapped with Disco music and bad seventies TV. One of the comments he makes is that women don't line up for botanist/nerds.

Dude... start the line behind me please!

Profile Image for Justin.
285 reviews2,304 followers
March 3, 2015
Well, here goes nothing.....

This is not a good book.

I tried. I really, really tried. I wanted to love it at first. Then, I wanted to at least like it. Then, I wanted to at least have something good to say about it since everyone loves it and it's everywhere right now. Maybe it's just the hype, I thought. Maybe things pick up and the story gets better, I hoped. Maybe the book just sucks, I ultimately decided.

Maybe my expectations were off. I guess when I read about how an astronaut was stranded on Mars I didn't expect to feel like he was actually on vacation somewhere. Mark's sarcasm and sense of humor about the situation added some comic relief in the beginning, but it never ended. He never seemed to be afraid, and he always, always, ALWAYS had a witty one-liner to end his log entry or other communication. It never ended. Stuff about gay space probes, space pirates, disco, etc. just kept coming. I felt like Marc was on vacation with a perfect plan for everything he needed to do when things started to go wrong. Even when his plan didn't work, he had another plan.

He's in SPACE! He is TRAPPED all by himself on MARS! I wanted to care, but I couldn't stand him. And he didn't seem to care either. The only thing that kept me reading was the stuff from Earth, but all of those characters had almost zero development. The dialogue was choppy and uninspired. Even when there was supposed to be some type of emotion or desperation expressed, I didn't feel it.

You could also take out 95% of the log entries from Mark and still follow the story. Mark does this. Then, he does this. Next, he does that. Finally, his plan works and he watches TV. Then, he does this. He calculates that. He waits. He moves rocks. He does some other stuff. It just never ends. It also adds nothing to the story, just to the length of the book.

Anyway, I was either bored or annoyed most of the time. The author is obviously a space nerd, not a writer. I gave it my best shot, but this one is awarded the prize of First One-Star Rating of 2015. Congratulations.
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