The Martian, by Andy Weir


Rating: 4/5

Paperback: 387 pages

Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (October 28, 2014)

Reading Sara Review: I feel a little behind in this review, not only did I finish the book over a month ago, but the movie is already out and I am guessing that many of my readers have already read the book or seen the movie, if not both. Even so, I enjoyed the book – and want to give it its fair share of spotlight.

I especially want to do this because The Martian is such a great underdog story. Weir originally just published it on his blog, chapter by chapter. Then, when it got more views he self-published it and was selling it for 99 cents. Then, because the book is great, Random House got ahold of it – and then Hollywood heard about it too. Well, the rest is history, Weir can quit his day-job and become one of our generations next great science-fiction writers.

The Martian is full of smart people. Like, super ridiculously smart people. To write something like this, you have to be pretty smart yourself. Mr. Weir did a smart thing, when he published his book on his blog, he took feedback from readers. His readers happened to also be smart and into general science and chemistry, so they helped him make the story even better. How amazing is that? And it just makes everything that much more exciting to know that it is possible (if you are super, ridiculously smart). Weir himself admits that not everything is actually possible (such as the sandstorm that leaves our protagonist stuck on Mars in the first place), but it’s still fun.

The research and science that went into this book cannot be under-stated. To make this type of book is a life’s work, which Weir did while he worked his day job as a computer-programmer.  As Weir has said in many interviews, he wanted science-fiction with more real science in it. Spoiler Alert: it doesn’t disappoint the science fans. I will be the first to admit, I did not understand half to a majority of the science-y parts. But knowing the work that went into it, the research and collaboration makes it enjoyable. And, most of all, it’s funny. Some of it was laugh out loud funny. To write a character that is smart and funny, especially while he is mostly by himself, it a true test of great writing.

I have not seen the starring-Matt Damon movie yet, and probably will not in the theaters. It isn’t that I think seeing it on a big screen would not be impressive, or that I did not like the story (I did! I gave it 4 stars!). Simply, I’m not ready to let the images out of my imagination be taken just yet. I thought it was fun to imagine what these characters looked like, how they solved problems, and most importantly – what it was like on Mars. I will see the movie eventually, when my self-created images subside. Weir is a fan of the movie, so I will trust him on it and I promise to see it. Just not yet.