I had first heard about this book on my weekly podcast I listen to about books, and they seemed to really enjoy it. There are 3 regular hosts to the podcast, and each has different reading styles that they prefer, and this seemed to appeal to all of them. It was routinely recommended to read, and then it was mentioned it was going to be made into a movie, so I decided to give it a try. I, myself, as a child, thought about becoming an astronaut, and thought about it again pre-university, so I knew this would ring my space bell nicely.
Mark Watney is one of the first astronauts to walk on Mars. He is one of a crew of six that travel to Mars, gathering samples and test materials to see if it can be inhabited. When a sudden, violent, dust storm kicks up, Mark is separated from the rest of the crew as they race to their ship for safety. They believe he was killed during the storm by flying debris, and have no choice but to leave the planet before they are killed by the storm as well. What they didn’t know was that Mark was hurt during the storm for sure, but he was not killed, and they have now marooned him on this planet. Mark knows that he does not have enough supplies to survive until someone can come for help, that is if he can even reach NASA and let them know he is alive in the first place. It is a harrowing tale of survival, and never giving up hope.
Mark happens to be an incredibly smart guy. He isn’t just your run of the mill astronaut, he also happens to be a botanist and an engineer. He uses what little he is left with to try to prolong his life. He finds a way to let NASA know he is there, he finds a way to maintain shelter, he finds a way to ration out his food supply, and he finds a way to utilize his own feces as fertilizer to grow potatoes, furthering his food situation. Throughout the book, Mark is met with one dilemma after another, knowing if he fails he dies. You just can’t help but root for a guy who just does not quit (even though you know he has to keep finding a way to survive, otherwise the book would be much shorter).
The author has done a tremendous amount of research for the novel. It can be very scientific at times, and for those that may not be versed in science, it might be a little too much. I found it to be just enough to keep it interesting. The writing was very witty, and the most enjoyable part of the book was the daring rescue mission at the end. Due to the author’s research, the book was believable, and raised the questions I am sure NASA scientists are looking at regarding what would happen if we as a society tried to travel to Mars. If you dig science, if you dig space, if you dig a character that just refuses to give up hope, this is a great read for you!