Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

I actually had this book in my audible library for sometime before I actually got round to listening to it. It was only after my brother commented what a good book it was that I started to listen to it. I have to say that I have not seen the film and I do wonder whether it will do the book justice. But, without further ado, lets head off to the red planet and see what I thought of the book…

When rating audiobooks, I have some criteria in order to evaluate the book. These are as follows ;

  1. Narrator’s Voice – When I start to listen to a book, if I feel that the voice of the narrator engages me and draws me into the book then it is definitely a winner. If the voice doesn’t then I tend to stop the book almost instantly.
  2. Sustainability – Does the story keep me engaged and wanting to listen. If the storyline means that I don’t really want to listen to the book then it gets removed from my ipod. If, however, I want to continue to listen even when I should be doing something else, then this is positive.
  3. Content – Good books rely on a good story and lots of imagery. However, I don’t think you need to provide explicit gruesome content to make a storyline good. If there is excessive use of gruesome content or long boring descriptions of a hat that someone is wearing, then the book again goes on the ‘avoid this book’ list.

The Martian a book about an astronaut, Mark Watney who gets left behind, presumed dead, after a expedition to Mars has to suddenly leave. The story follows his exploits as he tries to survive the harsh environment of the red planet, dealing with virtually no atmosphere, no food or water and no form of communication or real hope for a rescue. The book details his thought processes and the actual science as he solves, survives and copes with a variety of problems and situations which are thrown at him by the planet with one focused aim – to survive until he is rescued.

  • Narrator’s Voice – The narrator kept me engaged with the story and used the range of voices well in order to ensure I knew who was talking. His voice was easy to listen to and he communicates emotions and relationships between the characters well. The book actually did make me laugh out loud as I listened to it and this is all credit to the author Andy Weir. His understanding of the characters and their humour is fantastic and he relates everything to real life situations very well.

  • Sustainability – I have to confess I had a break from this book, about a third of the way through. I’m not sure why this was, especially when I got to the end, since I really enjoyed the whole book. Maybe it was just that initial ‘getting into the book’ moment. The book does have that element of two separate situations developing, the one on Mars and the one back on Earth. I really like this approach and especially enjoyed the Earth side of things. Lewis the commander of the expedition and Annie the woman in charge of the media are two well presented and interesting characters. I would say, if you are not very scientific, then make sure you give the book a chance, there are long calculations and science theory in places, but consider it an education and a learning curve rather than a boring part of the storyline.

  • Content – This book doesn’t rely on imagery to make it real. The focus is on the science and, having some what of a geeky science background, I enjoyed listening to the scientific descriptions, rather than the author just saying – ‘Mark did this because it was the best thing to do’. I even did find myself, at times, trying to figure out the problems which Mark faced although with my solutions I probably would have only survived an hour rather than years like Watney. The only real solution I came close to getting was burning hair to create the smoke in the blown off airlock. Andy Weir, the author, has a good understanding of people and situations, and you get to know the characters so well and actually start to create a bond with, not only the main people, but also the lesser characters. The guy who comes up with the maneuver is brilliant – I probably see some of me in him! I sometimes ‘blank over’ long descriptive sections in books, but with this one, I did find it very interesting. I do wonder how this will or has been translated into the film.

  • Recommend this book? This book is essentially a rescue mission, but it doesn’t seem to relate to any format of a story that I have read/listened to before. Although you don’t need a science degree to enjoy the book, there is a lot of science in the story, but this doesn’t detract from the book, in my opinion it actually adds to it. The book has its tense moments and some very funny one liners, so I would recommend it as a really good read. Best book I’ve read? Nope, that still remains with The Tower Towers, but it would be somewhere in the top twenty.

  • See the other books I have read and reviewed by checking out my Previous Reads and Reviews pages

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    2 comments for “Let Me In! – Simon’s Cat – YouTube

    1. February 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      Would be cool to play an one off, one of the dungeon crawls you made! Maybe the 8 level one!!!

    2. March 21, 2017 at 12:05 am

      I miss those early days so much. The current state of rpg’s , the rpg xubculture if you like, doesn’t feel like it did back then. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

      I was introduced to Advanced D&D 1st Edition, by my sisters boyfriend (the BEST boyfriend of the many she had IMHO..), who showed me S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks module after discovering I enjoyed computer based adventure games, I was hooked immediately and it wasn’t too long before I was hanging around the local game shop, Games Gallery, from which I was invited to join in a game run by the assistant manager, who was to become my long and good friend Steve, who was coincidentally, the reason I got to work at the local branch of Games Workshop for a time. Working there, in those days, before it became a Warhammer only shop, was amazing. It was the proverbial kid in the sweet shop!. Staff discount made it even sweeter – 50% off GW’s own products, and 25% off everything else. We also ran a great rpg club, with about 60-80 members at its peak.
      I was always the GM for my main group as no one else had the time it took to prepare a game properly, though after a few changes to the group, and people from the club popping up, I eventually got to play. Games by a company called Fantasy Games Unlimited (FGU) were very popular in all of my groups. FGU sold games such as Bushido, Aftermath,Space Opera, Chivalry & Sorcery, Freedom Fighters, and Bunnies & Burrows, but there were many many more games, by many different companies, covering all sorts of genres – and I still have them all. Many were, as was the style back then, table and chart and rule HEAVY. We loved that. Comparing themto the current crop of “rules lite” systems, I would certainly go back to the old games instead. We played these games sometimes 5 days a week, as for a time we were all unemployed. It was all we did.
      I often spent days creating scenarios, making maps, creating player characters as well as npc’s. I found it quite therapeutic, as is miniature painting – thousands of the little buggers packed away testify to the time I spent doing it. My “toy soldiers” as my brother in law calls them…
      I used to get quite attached to my favourite characters, and whilst one or two died over the decades, most did not.
      For almost all of my characters I would go overboard by most people’s standards. I like to have an image for my characters, whether a photo or artwork. Sometimes I will see an image and that is the base for the whole character, built around the image.
      I always believed as a player, that giving the GM a detailed background, list of goals, motivations, friends, contacts and enemies, will help the GM bring my character into the game more, by using some of what I have given him in the game. As a GM I like to see what players come up with for their characters, and will often use it in the game. It involves the player more, makes the game more personal if part of the game is suddenly about them, and it can help the players become more invested in their characters.
      For myself, I would often map out the characters home, create a family tree, siblings, etc.
      For our Star Trek RPG (by FASA Corp), I created the whole crew of a 500+ personnel star ship… All as detailed player characters. Unnecessary and a bit OTT I know, but it helped bring every department on the ship alive, every member of the landing party was a person not simply a red shirt.

      I am often bemused whilst watching streams when I see the gm of a streamed game pull some “new” idea out of his box of tricks, and the players are like “wow!”, “that’s original”, “I would never have thought of doing it that way!”, knowing we did it 30-40 years ago.

      The games my most recent group and I played/ran, were very detailed games with a lot of depth. Quite dark games too, mature themed, and often very emotional and intense. Having played with the same people for nigh on 20 years, you create a bond, a closeness and familiarity that allows you to communicate in a way you couldn’t, with people you don’t know very well.
      I have been brought to tears several times in recent years during the last (decade long) game we played ,as some scenes were simply too emotional or powerful, overwhelming (GM was a bastard – but an EXCELLENT GM).

      Sadly the group folded, but the GM offered to keep the game going for just me, which he did for a few years, which to be honest I really needed, as it helped me through a bad depression at that time).
      Over the years I have experienced a lot of things because of rpg’s, and made some great friends, too. I have a lot to be grateful for, regarding rpg’s. I was discussing with my brother in law, my collection of rpg’s and miniatures. When he realised how much they are worth, (some regularly sell for £100’s!) he always tells me to sell sell sell. He doesn’t grasp what they mean to me .
      Yet I won’t. Part of me hopes and prays that I will get a local group together (even some of the old group!) and start using them again. But aside from that, as my memory fails, little by little each year, these boxes and books and miniatures on the shelves are my constant reminders of happy and sad and exciting moments, and great fun, and more importantly, great friends.

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