Emily May's Reviews > The Martian

The Martian by Andy Weir
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bookshelves: sci-fi, 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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Comments Showing 1-39 of 39 (39 new)

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Vanessa J. Can't wait for your review! I've only read good references about this book :)


Deka Gedleh Can't wait for your review of this book!


Andrew Me too. I read yesterday the review of this book and I think to buy it before Christmas. It must be a great novel.


Emily May I will let you all know ;)


Hayat I've heard great things about this book and only recently added it to my tbr list. I hope it turns about to a great read for you Em! :)


Wendy Darling It's so very SCIENCY.


Emily May Wendy Darling wrote: "It's so very SCIENCY."

I see what you mean... in such a fascinating way O.O


message 8: by Neil (new) - added it

Neil Very interested to hear your thoughts on this one!


Arvin P. Just finished this and I identified with the protagonist, with all of his smartass, sarcastic and appropriately innappropriate comments (minus the science stuff that went over my head). I can also see why some readers might see him as annoying and irritating, because he's not a stereotypical whiny survivor type.


message 10: by Ellen (new) - added it

Ellen I so want to read this now.


message 11: by Itsskelseyy (new) - added it

Itsskelseyy I LOVE dark humor. Definitly picking this up :)


Liz* Fashionably Late This book is the perfect way to start 2015. Great review, Emily (:


message 13: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike I've been interested in this one for awhile now but you've locked it in for me now (although I'll probably wait for a bargain sale). Fantastic review and a great way to kick off 2015!!


Ellen Gail Great review! I loved this one too. =)


Adolfo Great review. Keep em coming.


Abhyudaya Shrivastava This book was my first review for 2015 too. Same pinch!


Emily May Thank you, everyone.


Cathryn Loved this book. Glad you enjoyed it too.


Juliana Nice review, Emily. This was one of the best books I read in 2014.

it's pretty much impossible to not be charmed by him.
Yes, I absolutely agree with this. :)


Samantha Great review. I just bought this one the other day since its been exploding on GR and my best friend- who hardly ever reads a book told me I had to read it!


message 21: by Sarina (new) - added it

Sarina WOW. Gripping review.... Feel like, I need to get my hands on this book right now!


message 22: by TL (new) - rated it 4 stars

TL glad you enjoyed this:)


message 23: by Zoe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Zoe I'm reading this right now Emily, and have the same thoughts as you. :) The humor and the science in this had the potential to make or break the book, but it was surprising how well it ended up working. Lovely review!


message 24: by Khalif (new) - added it

Khalif it seems as if this review has captured the attention of many readers. so lets find out the truth. thanks Emily for waking us up.


Scott Marlowe I'm reading this now. Pretty good read, though some of the humor is wearing a bit thin.


Malia I've been on the shelf about this (no pun intended), but it does sound very intriguing. Was it very depressing, or more hopeful?
Thanks for the great review, and happy New Year!


message 27: by Mark (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mark Howe I agree with Scott, so far so good, but sometimes I think he tries too hard with the jokes. I'm still very glad that I am reading it.


Emily May Malia wrote: "I've been on the shelf about this (no pun intended), but it does sound very intriguing. Was it very depressing, or more hopeful?
Thanks for the great review, and happy New Year!"


Thank you! Happy new year :) (view spoiler)


Emily May @Scott and Mark, I can see that. I find humour to be one of the most subjective things in all books so I guess it depends on how much you like Mark's jokes. Glad to hear you're still enjoying it, though!


Scott Marlowe Emily May wrote: "@Scott and Mark, I can see that. I find humour to be one of the most subjective things in all books so I guess it depends on how much you like Mark's jokes. Glad to hear you're still enjoying it, t..."

I powered through and finished it last night. Very enjoyable read! There were quite a few laugh out loud moments, but also some where I thought we were getting a bit too adolescent. But, I don't finish books I don't like, so this one's a winner. Enough that I've recommended it to my wife to read.


Ariel Thanks to you, I read this fantastic book. I generally have trouble getting into sci-fi of any kind, so had stayed away from it, but this was just the right fit!

The sense of humor was really the best part. I finally have an ereader where highlighting is easy, and I highlighted the Aquaman line, as well as the bit above it (trying not to spoil anything, though this was early in the book).

I have to admit I did skim a little of the pure science explanations, but was continually impressed at the amount of work and research the author put into this great book.

Thanks, Emily! Another book that I found because of you. :)


Helena I wouldn't say it was crap but even the heaps of specific technical details couldn't cover the lack of pshychological depth. I could hardly connect to the character as he was such a flat figure saying "fuck" or "yay" a lot. Also, notice the missed chance of bringing in some dirty politics and international perspective with including China...


message 33: by Evan (new) - added it

Evan Dicesare Just picked this book up today, and after reading your review I'm glad I did! Excellent review by the way :D


Emily May Evan wrote: "Just picked this book up today, and after reading your review I'm glad I did! Excellent review by the way :D"

Thank you, Evan :) Hope you enjoy it too!


Giota I loved this book! It was deliciously funny, scary and adventurous.


Kaisa I love your reviews and agree on many things, so let me ask you this: would your rating/opinion stand if you knew that this book was full of factual errors and easily avoidable calculation mistakes?
Because it is.


message 37: by Emily May (last edited Nov 01, 2015 06:31PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emily May Kaisa wrote: "I love your reviews and agree on many things, so let me ask you this: would your rating/opinion stand if you knew that this book was full of factual errors and easily avoidable calculation mistakes..."

Thank you, but it doesn't personally change things for me. I already read the articles criticising the scientific aspect, but it didn't bug me so much here. Maybe it would bother me more if it was a field I studied/worked in and felt attached to, but I went into this novel willing to suspend disbelief so it was easy to do that.

In reality, there would have been no surviving this situation because Mark would have died of cancer due to the radiation. But it was fun to imagine the possibility of a man surviving the impossible :)


Kaisa I know exactly what you mean! You need to suspend disbelief to enjoy most sci-fi books. If there is no chance for Mark to survive Mars radiation, you either don’t write this book or just ignore the fact (or come up with a new concept/idea to justify his survival, which might or might not require additional suspension of disbelief). But I was talking about unnecessary errors in calculations that could have been easily avoided without altering the plot.

For example, if you have 115,500 total calories and your metabolism is 1,500 cal/day, you can easily calculate that you have enough calories to last exactly 77 days, not 76 like the Martian/Mark tells us. Also a high school student knows or should know that, if one molecule of a liquid substance has enough atoms to produce 2 molecules of water, it doesn't mean that one liter of that substance will produce 2 liters of water. The conversion between molecules and liters are not this straightforward and an engineer/botanist would know that as a technical writer should. There is absolutely no need for these errors, they don’t advance the plot and they're not required to justify anything. Maybe it's my background talking but although I have no problems with sci-fi books based on unbelievable, far-stretched concepts, I have huge problems with sloppy calculations.


Ronyell Awesome review Emily! I loved this book too!


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