Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies's Reviews > The Martian

The Martian by Andy Weir
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really liked it
bookshelves: adult, action, sci-fi, awesome-guy, book-boyfriend

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.)
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Reading Progress

May 9, 2014 – Started Reading
May 9, 2014 – Shelved
May 9, 2014 –
0.0% "Robinson Crusoe in space, huh?"
May 10, 2014 –
15.0% "Things are finally going my way. In fact, they’re going great! I have a chance to live after al!\n \n LOG ENTRY: SOL 37\n \n I am fucked and I’m gonna die!\n \n Ok, calm down. I’m sure I can get around this.\n \n BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA"
May 10, 2014 – Shelved as: adult
May 10, 2014 – Shelved as: action
May 10, 2014 – Shelved as: sci-fi
May 10, 2014 – Shelved as: awesome-guy
May 10, 2014 – Shelved as: book-boyfriend
May 10, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 69 (69 new)

message 1: by Katherine (new)

Katherine All I'm thinking about when I see the cover is Gravity. Shudder, floating up in space...

The kittens, rainbows and sunshine are smiling upon you!!

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies That's one of the least inviting covers I've ever seen.

So it totally makes sense that this is one of the best books I've read this year.

ally  ¯\(ツ)/¯ soooo good!

Rainbow Moonstone I can't wait! :D

message 5: by Emma Sea (last edited May 10, 2014 10:30PM) (new) - added it

Emma Sea this sounds a lot like someone wrote a book based on the experiences of Don Cheadle's character in Mission to Mars.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Oh my goodness, I didn't even know that movie existed. What a similar premise. I wonder if I would have liked this book as much had I watched the movie first!

message 7: by Emma Sea (new) - added it

Emma Sea yeah, really similar, right? It had to have been inspiration.

message 8: by Tandie (new) - added it

Tandie This sounds so funny!

Kribu Yay, I'm so glad you enjoyed this. :D

The problems you had were pretty much the same as mine - fortunately (at least for me) the character development issues in particular were not the kind that bothered me at all while reading, only once I was done and thought about the book a little bit more critically.

Natalie Monroe Yay for sarcastic male leads! Definitely putting this on my to-read list.

message 11: by Savina (new) - added it

Savina M. [12:15]WATNEY: Look! A pair of boobs! -> (.Y.)

Okay, that was hilarious.

message 12: by Jana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jana Yay! (There seems to be a theme to our collective reactions tonight, lol.) I'm really glad that you liked this one. I love science fiction, Mars-related anything, and survival stories, so this is pure candy to me. :D Kittens, rainbows, and sunshine for everyone!

Katie.g Haha sounds interesting. Loving the sarcastic/humourous attitude already.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Tandie: Yes, it was. Very surprising for a sci-fi =)

Kribu: Same for me. I was so engrossed in the book that only after reading it, the flaws came up as I was thinking about it and writing.

Natalie: I love sarcastic leads :D

Savina: It's something I've done, sadly :P

Kit: I'm surprised you haven't gotten around to this!

Katie.g: Yeah, I loved the very surprising humor. Almost every page had something that made me smile.

message 15: by Igor (last edited May 11, 2014 01:01AM) (new)

Igor Ljubuncic Nice one. BTW, speaking of good-looking engineers. Yup. This book could have been about me.

Yzabel Ginsberg Looks definitely funny, and a narrative voice I'd like.
(Hm, I wonder. Is he so cheerful because he's gone completely bonkers, maybe? I guess I'll have to read to see if that theory holds water.)

Figgy Yaaaaaaay, you liked it!

Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell Mark Watney was so adorable. One of the few fictional guys I'd actually date irl. <3

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Igor: Lol! Nice one :P

Yzabel: That's true. Hysteria works, but I don't know if he could maintain that level for a few years.


Nenia: Yep. I would totally marry him.

Yzabel Ginsberg Eh, well. I'll see. I've requested a digital copy on Edelweiss, and I'll probably buy it otherwise if I'm not accepted. As said, I already like the tone of the narrative. :)

message 21: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Wrona Awesome review, like always!

Okay, I'm definitely going to go and request this on Edelweiss and buy it eventually.

message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Every time I see your new name coming up on my notifications tab, I roll on the floor.

Taryn Any time you mark a book as four stars or more I automatically mark it as 'want to read'. And then I saw that it was about space, and I fucking love space. So it's definitely worth a read. :D

Kaora I have seen so many good reviews for this book but im holding back cause I'm not sure if its my type of book. Maybe I'll give it a shot.

Paolo Couldn't agree more about Mark being inexplicably upbeat all the time! The secondary characters are also kind of thin. Minor complaints since it's still a great read!

Shayla Wow, sounds like a pretty great read! I think I'd lose my mind from loneliness and boredom after about 2 weeks. Maybe less. And there would be lots and lots of crying and self-pity. It would have been interesting to read about Mark's descent into insanity, but I think I'll enjoy his humor. Adding this to my to-read list!

message 27: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will M. Been deciding whether to read this or not, and thanks to your 4 stars, and awesome review, I have made my decision.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Michelle: Thank you! Can you believe that this book was originally self-pubbed and 99 cents?!

Oana: It's taking some time for me to adjust, too :P

Taryn: I hope you love it! I don't even like space and I love this book. There's science, but it's so filled with humor that it didn't feel like a heavy book at all.

Allison: I hope you end up enjoying it if you do =)

Anasylvia: Most of my friends have loved this book, too!

Paolo: Yep, overall, still so enjoyable.

Shayla: Yeah, I would go freaking nuts. It's one thing to deliberately not talk to people and be antisocial, but to not see anyone for so long...not good for the mind. It would have been great if he went insane :)

Will: Thank you! I hope you love it!

message 29: by Mei (new)

Mei Great review Khanh!!! :D
Finally a good one! *wink*

message 31: by [deleted user] (last edited May 12, 2014 06:59AM) (new)

I've heard so many good things about this one, yours just adds to the list

Hannah (Vamp of Savannah) I'm so excited you liked this one! I had a good feeling about it every time I passed it at the book store so I bought it this weekend and plan on reading it after I'm finished with my current trilogy.
There is a ray of hope in my future...

Yzabel Ginsberg Awww, I can't get it through Edelweiss, so I tried to apply for that blog review program they told me about instead, but when requesting the book, I'm told it's not a valid book? Well, poop.

message 34: by R.S. (new) - rated it 5 stars

R.S. Carter You had me at kittens, rainbows and sunshine. I'm still there, with a raised eyebrow and a bit of a dumb look. :)

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Kat: Same. It took me awhile to resist picking up the book, since I usually don't like sci-fi. But a string of 1 stars has a way of prompting me.

Hannah: Yay! I hope you like it :)

Yzabel: It was finally picked up by a publisher, it was originally self-pubbed.

R.S.: No dumber than mine. Science? What's that? Can I eat it? :D

Yzabel Ginsberg Yeah, too bad for me, I guess. I'll buy it anyway at some point, I think. :)

message 37: by Yzabel (last edited May 13, 2014 06:51AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Yzabel Ginsberg Well, I'll never understand how Netgalley works. I still applied, although it was for a copy in the UK, so I expected to be denied... but, no. All the better for me, then. *shrugs*

message 39: by Jennifer (new) - added it

Jennifer Madero (Boricuan Bookworms) I like science, but nothing too technical. I requested this title recently and got approved, so hopefully I'll get to like it. Seems cool, though not so much on the character development part. Maybe they should've put a bit of despair between the humor to make him more believable, since some people deal with fucked-up situations that way. Great review! :D

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies Thanks, Jennifer! I hope you like it :D

message 41: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will M. Thanks for rating this 4 stars! I decided that that was enough to be a recommendation. Loved the novel!

Louis I listened to the book on audible, the narrator made the Martian character come alive. His name is RC Bray, definitively worth a listen to as well.

message 45: by Sb (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sb Didn't read the entire review because I am not yet done reading the novel myself, but felt I had to point something out. One of your few complaints is that the character development is unbelievable because the character stays so cheerful. Seeing as how I am at around 65% read I can't speak for the entire book (if he does stay cheerful, I guess that would count as 0 character development). But aren't you just thinking too much aboout how you (and most people) would feel, eg filled with dread, despair, and suicidal thoughts, instead of considering that there are those people that won't feel these emotions. NASA does have a rigorous psychological evaluation program prior to training for a reason.

Then again, complaints are subjective and reading is a subjective experience!

Great book so far.

Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies I really find it unrealistic to think that anyone, however cheerful, would find themselves that upbeat in the face of death and in the face of isolation. The criminal justice system uses isolation for punishment. It is considered cruel and unusual by many.

message 47: by R.S. (new) - rated it 5 stars

R.S. Carter I was in the car shop, waiting on an oil change, when I began to snort-laugh at the "Look! A pair of boobs!" The harder I tried to stop, the harder I laughed, naturally. So many people there, staring at me in while in a snorting-conniption fit.

message 48: by Kym (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kym Loved your review. If the book is as entertaining, I'll be set.
Regarding the character not relating emotionally to his situation: I find, when I have to deal with crap, compartmentalization is an excellent tool. I put it in a box marked "shit I can't deal with" and never, ever look into it. NASA will probably debrief him into opening the box and he'll go crazy because there's a reason our psyches came up with coping mechanisms. Don't. Open. The. Box.
Anyway, great review. I'll have to put it on the TBR list and maybe bump it toward the top.

message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

Why would you say this book is for adults? (Is it because of the numerous cuss words the author uses or is it something else)

Belkis OMG Khanh you had me in stitches reading this review! I'm definitely going to be getting the audio for this one. Thanks for the entertainment, you're fucking brilliant!

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