““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.”
LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 “How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.””
Ok this book was so good! Why have I been sleeping on it this whole time?? For some reason I didn’t expect it to be as engaging and fast-paced as it was. I thought I’d like it, but not really like it. I’m glad I was wrong!
Not only was this book super realistic in terms of the science and theoretical scenarios, it was absolutely captivating, too! I had no idea it would be so engrossing, but I could barely put it down as I was reading it. I finished it in about two days, so it certainly kept my attention throughout.
The writing style here was spot on. Granted the prose is not overly flowery or complex, but it is the perfect fit to the story. The book starts out with a killer hook, with the main character Watney’s space logs on Mars. He has just been left behind, because his whole crew thinks he died during an emergency evacuation. Instantly, the reader wants to know more about what happened and how on Earth (or on Mars, rather) Watney is going to survive. For about the first hundred pages or so, we are only seeing things from Watney’s point of view as he continues to write his log entries. The heavier scientific jargon and space-travel explanations are broken up in easily digestible sections, thanks to Watney’s bright voice and optimistic personality. His humor and sarcasm make for a very funny read, which I was not expecting, either.
Right when it was getting a little tedious to only hear Watney’s voice after the fact (these are log entries, so we are only being told what has already happened), the author branches out to include other perspectives. We then get to witness how NASA reacts to finding out he is alive and how they plan to rescue him. We see his parents and his crew members learn about his situation. It is all very exciting and brings a new element of suspense to the novel. Now we are watching in real time and hearing from Watney afterward, as the clock quickly runs out for him. The roller coaster ride of ideas, experiments, failures, and desperate measures from the NASA perspective was done so well. I was biting my nails the whole time.
The only couple drawbacks for me, occurred near the end of the book. Once Watney was almost to his destination, it felt a little monotonous when things would go wrong. It was a bit repetitive with the “Oh no, a catastrophe!” scenario only to have Watney fix it a few pages later with no real worry that he would fail. The climax also felt a but rushed to me. I wish some of that page time was spent at the end of the book, dealing with the aftermath of events. I wanted to see more about what happened back on Earth afterward and the reactions of everyone there. I wanted to hear Watney talk more about his experience to real life people and have his log entries exposed. I think that ending the book where he did, the author missed some great opportunities for a more complete and satisfying conclusion. Even a short epilogue would have contributed, I think.
Overall, this was such a surprising read for me and a something that I thoroughly enjoyed. I would recommend this to anyone, because I think no matter what you are interested in, this book is engaging and damn exciting. Anyone would love it!
Thank you for reading! I’m off to watch the movie now.