<i>The Martian</i> by Andy Weir | Teen Ink

The Martian by Andy Weir MAG

October 18, 2015
By Anonymous

So. You’re trapped. But not in a room or a house, no. You’re trapped on a planet. Nobody is around for hundreds of thousands of miles, and the only chance you have of being saved won’t arrive ’til years after you’re dead. How would you describe that situation? Mark Watney, an astronaut from the Ares III craft, describes it one way: “I’m pretty much f***ed. That’s my considered opinion. F***ed.” Assumed dead, Watney is left on Mars by his commander and crewmates. So what is a man to do? Two words: goshdarn science.

Andy Weir’s The Martian is something of a masterpiece. Never before has a book combined such masterful storytelling and scientific prowess. A writer and amateur rocket scientist, Weir always found himself thinking about his perfect trip to Mars. After brainstorming what it would be like if somebody was left for dead on the Red Planet, Weir realized this would be an amazing book.

This sets into action the journey of a lifetime, even though most of it takes place in a 500 meter circle. Armed with nothing but his brain, some potatoes, and a lot of technologically advanced items that NASA provided, Watney sets to work to become the first man to be stranded on Mars and live.

Since the story revolves around a single character, it’s critical that he’s something more than your average scientist stick in the mud, and Weir delivers. Watney has a sense of humor only rivaled by his intellect. Be it pondering how Aquaman can talk to whales, or being a complete smart-aleck about everything he does, Watney keeps readers amused. This gives the book a depth that I have seen in few others, and it made me sympathize with Watney in his impossible mission.

Now, I couldn’t review this book without mentioning its biggest selling point: the science. With its movie adaptation having the tagline “I’m going to science the s**t out of this,” you’d think that this story would be more fiction than real science. But you’d be wrong. Almost all of Watney’s creations, from making water from jet fuel or growing potatoes in the vacuum of space, are scientifically accurate. This provides a layer of realism to the over-the-top plot. Weir explains the science enough to show how intelligent Watney is, but not enough to turn off the reader with too much science mumbo-jumbo.

This book can’t be total perfection though. There is one issue: the secondary characters. I barely care about half of them. Other than Watney’s log entries on Mars, there are two other concurrent stories: NASA trying to get him off Mars and his crewmates lamenting his apparent death and eventually trying to save him.

For the record, I love the crewmates. Weir employs all of the archetypes this genre usually has. We have the funny one, the no-nonsense commander with a heart, the sarcastic German scientist, and the two who have feelings for one another. They play off each other amazingly, and I care about them, as they seem like humans rather than characters. But then we have the NASA scientists. They are as bland as can be. They are either whiny or generic bureaucrats more concerned about money than human safety. Throughout these parts, there is the ever-present question: Is it worth risking five lives to save one?

Despite its flaws, I believe that this is one of the best books of our generation – if you’re a science-oriented person who loves astrophysics and botany. From its witty and humorous dialogue to its accurate scientific jargon, the book has mastered the art of science fiction. I would definitely recommend it to anybody who won’t have an aneurysm from all of the science terms.

The author's comments:

This book is amazing, what else is there to say. Just a shame that I can't cuss, because it makes the book that much better


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