If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard anything about this book or its subsequent film, I’ll briefly summarize it for you. The Martian is the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut on the Ares 3 which is part of a series of manned missions to Mars. Due to an unfortunate series of events, Mark is left stranded on Mars when is crew believes he is dead. The ensuing novel is Mark’s efforts to stay alive until he can be rescued.
Mark is equal parts likeable and smart and I found myself emotionally invested in his rescue almost immediately. He is also extremely resourceful and is forced to think on his feet multiple times as the hostile environment of Mars seems to throw everything it can at its only human inhabitant. Meanwhile, all of Earth is following Mark and NASA’s efforts to get him back home. Though we know that Mark has parents who love him dearly and presumably friends (someone like Mark would likely make friends easily) we see almost none of them during the course of the book. This story is about Mark and the people involved in his rescue. It is, as the author states in the notes, a man vs nature store for the new age.
I was quickly engrossed by this book and found myself sneaking away to read it whenever I could (I even hid out in the fitting rooms at my retail job to sneak in a few pages). I had to get to the end to see if Mark made it or not. As I approached the end that this book was less about whether or not Mark lived or died and more about the efforts of Mark and the world to save him. Obviously I wanted know know the result of those efforts, to not tell us would be cheating. But his life or death would be equally satisfying from a storytelling level. If I wept tears of joy or tears of sadness, the journey of Mark and the world were the important thing.