This novel has left me with a lot of thoughts. First off, I am totally confused on what I really feel about this. It is one of the most difficult books I found to review. So I just won’t. I do not think I would be able to word my thoughts well. Well, they are confused.
So I would instead refer to one review that I completely concur with. Thomas has done a great job reviewing this at Goodreads. Here’s how he describes the style of prose in the novel, the “survival” journey of Mark Watney.
Watney discovers a problem. Watney worries for a sentence or two. Watney comes up with a solution. Watney enacts the solution with minimal struggle. Watney celebrates. Rinse and repeat.
There, Thomas has described what goes on in 75% of the pages. Sigh! This guy Watney is an unbelievable genius. No trouble or challenge is big for him. He glides over every challenge as one would with a game of toys. Actually that’s exactly how Andy Weir, the author, writes this; as if he is Andy from Toy Story spinning an action-drama around Woody during his play time. Throw anything at him, he would have the smarts, the resources and the luck with him to soar out of it. And you know right that at the beginning of every log Watney writes.
There lies the novel’s biggest drawback. It just has one tone, the tone of success. And you can’t build a thriller if the reader is just not thrilled for the protagonist.
To sum up, this is what Thomas has to say.
My overall thoughts on The Martian center on its lack of introspection and repetitive descriptions of action, its disconcerting lack of characterization, and the drought of struggle each of the characters underwent. Watney faces a difficult situation, but I at no point in my entire reading thought he would suffer, based on his Pollyanna tone.
Completely agree. I do not think Andy Weir wanted to write a thriller about a Martian. He wanted to jot down his thoughts on what will it take scientifically for a guy to survive on Mars. And the novel is a breezy light log of these thoughts. You can skim through it without getting involved, like any science paper/theory you read.
All said, this is a nice fleet of thoughts, dreams of Andy Weir. The efforts that Andy Weir has put in that “included extensive research into orbital mechanics, conditions on Mars, the history of manned spaceflight, and botany” for the novel shows. A one time read for sure just for that. Just don’t look for a thriller in this and you should be fine.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars