Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Just One Book Today

Because apparently I had a lot to say about it.  I'm hoping to get more books up tomorrow that I can persuade/coerce you into reading.



The Martian by Andy Weir

Now, here's the thing:  I like mysteries, I like sci fi, I like fantasy, I like the less pretentious offerings to be found in literary fiction.  I like plenty of nonfiction.  What I don't like?  Survival stories.  Please do not recommend books set on deserted islands, or on ridiculously tall, remote, snowy mountainsides where the entire purpose of the story is for the main character to survive.  I do not like them.  I do not like them, Sam I Am.
HOWEVER.
This is without question a story of survival, but friends, it was excellent.  An astronaut is on a mission to Mars, something goes wrong (as it is wont to do in space), his crew leaves Mars to return home, grief-stricken over the death of their crewmate and the fact that they had to leave his body behind.
Except he's not dead.  He's now marooned on Mars, nobody knows he's alive, and he has very few life-sustaining tools.
I am aware that this sounds like an utterly hopeless story; it is anything but.  Oh, yes, your emotions will be sent through the wringer, but the book never feels slow or depressing or bereft of hope.  Between the three settings (Astronaut Mark on Mars, the remaining crew still in space in their spaceship, and the folks at NASA down on earth), the pace never lags, and there are delightful characters to spare, although none more so than Mark, who you will root for until it hurts.  Did I mention the humor?  Because somehow this guy fighting for his life is often hilarious.  No idea how Mr. Weir pulled that one off.
A couple of warnings:  First, Cursing.  There's a lot of it, and while I tend to get impatient with superfluous cuss words in books (Really?  Aaaaaalllll the words in the English language and those five are the only ones you can think of over and over, authors?), I tended to err on the side of forgiveness here, because, well, this guy is STRANDED ON MARS.  He's just the tiniest bit stressed, and scared, and deserves some slack.  Second, Science.  There's a lot of it, too.  I knew just enough to be able to more or less follow along, thinking about how quickly I would die on Mars because, whoa, that's a lot of science.  It got to the point where I thought, "You know, I'm pretty much accepting everything this author is putting down here, science-wise, because it all sounds relatively familiar and plausible, but I wonder what a real scientist or astronaut would think?"  Then I flipped to the back cover of the book, Home of the Blurbs, and behold!  A blurb from the COMMANDER OF THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.  He liked it, too!  It validated my working opinion of the book and made me feel halfway to intelligent, but only halfway, because then I read the author's description, who was apparently something of a wunderkind:  "...first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen... devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics..." etc, etc, blah blah blah.  Just your average bio.

And not to put any pressure on you, but a quick search just showed me they might be making a movie out of this book.  Please hurry and read it before One: Hollywood adds naked chicks and subtracts intelligence but still has the temerity to use the same title, and Two: They start publishing the book with stills from the movie on the cover.  Such an offense should have been covered under the Geneva Conventions because it is torture for me to see this in bookstores with my poor unsuspecting eyes.



3 comments:

  1. I am SO looking forward to reading this book after this review. I am currently reading the latest installment of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, but once that's done, The Martian is next on my list.

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  2. I am quite certain I would never pick this up on my own, but your review has my interest piqued. I may have to add it to my one-million-mile-long list of books to read.

    But this:

    Please hurry and read it before One: Hollywood adds naked chicks and subtracts intelligence but still has the temerity to use the same title, and Two: They start publishing the book with stills from the movie on the cover. Such an offense should have been covered under the Geneva Conventions because it is torture for me to see this in bookstores with my poor unsuspecting eyes.

    That's pure gold, right there.

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  3. I love your book reviews. And while I'm not a sci-fi or fantasy reader (I read the C.S. Lewis space trilogy for only one reason: it was C.S. Lewis) I will keep my eyes out for this book. Even if it still isn't my "thing" to read, I am surrounded by fantasy readers at home.

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