The Martian by Andrew Weir is a book that is a bit out of my comfort zone. I am definitely not a science fiction/fantasy reader, yet after reading Diane's review I knew I definitely wanted to try this one.
And despite it totally being not my kind of book, I loved The Martian. This is a book that I just tore through.
Mark Watney is an astronaut whose crew left him behind on Mars thinking him dead. Watney is most certainly not dead, but he might as well be. He is alone on a planet without any way to communicate with Earth, and a limited amount of food and water.
But Watney is also brilliant (he works for NASA, after all). I'm not sure I understood all the math and science Watney shared - all about making oxygen and making water along with a bunch of other science stuff. But I did get that Watney wasn't going to have enough food (or air or water) to survive until someone could come back and get him.
So Watney uses his intellect and his innovativeness (is that a word? innovativity?) to find a way to grow potatoes since he needs to extend his food supply. This involves collecting his waste and making sure he has bacteria in soil. And making more water. And amazingly enough, he can do it. Whatever horrible obstacle comes his way, Watney is so smart he can figure out how to deal with it.
At first he is sure that no one on Earth knows he is still alive. But a lowly worker at NASA, whose MA is being underused, notices some subtle differences in the cameras trained at Mars. This observation allows him to have some contact with NASA and work on a plan to return to Earth.
And of course, even though being stuck on Mars does seem like enough of a challenge, Weir throws in a lot more for Watney to contend with. Being in contact with NASA might seem to have solved a lot of problems, but as time passes there are plenty more obstacles to overcome, which means I had to race through this book to see how things end.
Although this is a book about Watney surviving being left on Mars, I enjoyed the humor in it as well. Little things, like Watney falling asleep during an episode of Three's Company where Mr. Roper misinterprets something that Jack does, had me chuckling to myself.
So, even if you aren't a fan of science fiction, The Martian is a book that should have wide appeal.
Read Alikes: pretty much anything by Michael Crichton