The Martian – 3.5 stars
While leaving the planet on an emergency, Mark Watney is accidentally left on the surface of Mars by his crew of Ares and he is assumed to be dead. With no way of contacting anyone and with limited supply of food and shelter, he has to survive.
“Intelligence is based on how efficient a species became at doing the things they need to survive.”
― Charles Darwin
The Martian is a marvelous diary of a survivor. I am a student of Physics and it gave me more than enough pleasure to read a space-science-fiction novel with ‘Science’ that may really come true in a few upcoming years. I loved the book like a dear brother who speaks up ambitions which makes you proud. But it also contains a lot of things which almost made me throw it from rooftop. I felt like a bi-polar person loving and hating it so much the same time. To make it simpler, let me put it in pros and cons.
There are two types of sci-fi, one which jumps a long way and shows us a new kind of advanced world and another which just goes out for a little walk out of the boundary of actual possible world of today’s science. The Martian is of the second kind. It speaks of a very smooth fictional Mars expedition without ever going over the top. One after another disasters and problems are thrown at our hero and he tires overcomes those with the best weapon a man has – intelligence. The book balances thrill and tension very well to keep up the readers on their toes. Descriptions of the farming, rovers, hub, space station and NASA are so realistic that it makes one wonder if this is a fiction or fictionalized form of real events. Andy Weir has studied like a mad man for writing this book.
It really hurts me to write bad about this book. Biggest problem of the book is it’s language. Our hero is left alone in a stranded planet and he makes fart jokes, boob jokes and puns in his log all the time. While doing some of the most complicated chemical and mathematical calculations he jokes around like a 12 year old. It just blunts the importance of critical situations if a hero constantly says “Booyah, Yeeay etc” throughout the whole book. And most surprising of all – there is literally zero emotional effect on him. He is alone on Mars with almost no chance of survival and he is cool; so cool as if he has gone trekking alone. A man stays frigging alone on a whole frigging planet for more than a year and he never even has one emotional breakdown. What the hell??? This is Andy Weir’s debut novel and it badly shows. Most of the conversations among NASA’s topmost scientists feel tacky, cinematic and forceful to make it funny. It might make some readers smile with all the casual language, jokes and funny situations but let it settle and you will see how unnatural it feels.
It is painful to love a book so much while hating the author at the same time. Even with all the problems this is one of the most entertaining science fiction I’ve ever read. If only it had chosen a less funny and more sentimental approach, it could have been a masterpiece in all aspect. But at the end of the day, who won? Science won! Yeah!