Genre: science fiction
Length: 369 pages
Setting: Earth and Mars, near future
Interest: I had seen the book blurbed as a Big Idea post on Scalzi’s blog and the book sounded quite interesting. When I saw the book in the new book section of the library, I picked it up.
Summary: Mark Watney was part of a mission to Mars. In an emergence evacuation during a major wind storm, he was injured, presumed dead, and left on Mars while his crewmates left. Now he has to use all of his technical ability and problem-solving skills to stay alive and get off Mars. First off, he has to increase his food supply, which leads to an intensive potato-growing operation in the HAB. Then, he needs to re-establish communications with NASA, which leads to an expedition to retrieve Pathfinder. Finally, he has to traverse 3200 kilometers of Mars to get the the MAV4 site and hopefully reunite with the rest of his crew while they do a flyby of Mars. He makes many mistakes along the way (luckily none of them fatal) but ultimately succeeds in getting off Mars.
Final thoughts: A fast-paced, riveting story of “will he make it?” I couldn’t put it down once I started. Everyone rightly compares it to a modern-day Robinson Caruso or Swiss Family Robinson, but much more believable. It is completely possible that Watney would have the skills, tools and supplies to actually survive the different problems that arose as he tried to get off Mars. I loved the problem-solving Watney demonstrated and all the math he had to do to calculate survival chances. The chapters back on Earth and in the spaceship were equally interesting and added another element to the story. The whole world got sucked into the story – the best reality show ever, and I could see it actually happening. There’s a bit of adult language (it starts off with an F-bomb in the first sentence), but otherwise is clean.
Title comes from: Watney, the main character, lived on Mars (and even cultivated crops, making him a colonist) for a year and a half.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 51/100 in my 100 Book Challenge, and I’m claiming the seventh continent in my Global Reading Challenge since the sense of place was such an important part of the story.
If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!