This was probably the most surprising book I’ve read this year. I had countless friends and co-workers tell me about how wonderful this book is and I should have listened sooner. I’m not even sure why I waited so long. It has a lot to do with the amount of books in my To Be Read piles (Hint: It’s quite a few), this book just kept being pushed down the list.
The story follows astronaut Mark Watney on his trip to Mars. He is one of the first people to ever walk on the surface of Mars and it goes without a hitch…at first. A few days into his stay on Mars a dust starts up and it soon gains in strength and the crew is forced to abandon the rest of their mission and return to Earth. As they prepare to head back to the ship, the wind blows equipment over and Mark ends up unconscious face-down in the Martian dirt with a hole in his suit. Thinking him dead the rest of the crew leaves for safety. When Mark awakens he learns he is alone and stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive.
The story is tightly paced and super tense from there. The science is interesting and seems plausible and it is pretty easy to understand all Mark’s various plans for survival. I don’t think it is a spoiler to say that not everything goes as planned and there are a lot of setbacks and conflicts that arise as Mark tries to come up with a way to last, alone, on Mars for another four years. I felt that the book maintained a very good plot tension all the way through the book. there were many happy portions where everything was working out and some tense part where things didn’t go as planned for Mark and the people trying to help him. I was very excited by the , i guess, side stories going on around Mark. From the rest of his original crew to the many people back on Earth that were trying their hardest to get him back alive, i felt it added to the plot in a great way. Various side characters got their own little time to shine and none of them seemed like cardboard cutouts of people. They all had their own motivations and fears and hopes for this mission and I felt that all came through wonderfully.
I loved the main character Mark Watney. He was smart and obviously competent but he was also funny and full of hope. He never really lost his hope that he would survive and get back to Earth somehow no matter what issues arose. He handled them all with good humor and only the occasional freak out. He was a great Point-of-view character.
I will also quickly say that I LOVE the cover on this book. It is eye-catching and sets up what is inside really well. I think this book was wonderful and deserved all the awards it has already received, and any it may get in the future. I’m excited to be the person who gets to implore people to read this great book, and I look forward to what this author writes in the future