Crown; First Edition edition (February 11, 2014)
The story of the Martian is nothing new. It’s a survival story, they have been around for as long as any one can remember. But what the Martian has going for it; other than incredible writing. Is an incredible take on the Hard Scifi Novel. Not something that we see often. This is Hard SF for everyone, not just for the science loving among us. Not that, that is necessarily true or even usually true. But it is what the average person believes when they hear that a novel is Hard SF. The best SF Novels, whether they are Hard SF or Space Opera are those that are about characters and their stories. And that IS EXACTLY what the Martian is about. Mark Watney is important to the reader by the end. We NEED him to succeed. Not that their aren’t other interesting characters in the book. But mostly its Mark Watney’s show. Which is also what the Martian has going for it. More often than not, while the main character in a survival story may seem likable. They are often whiney and annoying. Especially if the book goes on for a while. Or they are just not all that bright and you constantly are screaming at them to do this “thing,” that for story reasons, they just won’t do. None of this is present in the Martian. Mark Watney is NEVER whiney and he is incredibly intelligent.
I would also like to give a shout out to the audio version of the book. Which is AWESOME… The narration, while dead pan, grows on you so much that you will probably find yourself listening to this book rather than reading it. I’ve always wondered if some books are just patiently better if they are read to an audience. My first exposure to the book was when Andy Weir read the first chapter or so to a seminar group. This IS what made me REALLY want to read this book. So I decided to get the Whispersync version. It was WELL worth it. Andy Weir is not the narrator but the narrator as I said, is deadpan, but good.
The Martian isn’t perfect, it is a little predictable here and there. There are some really questionable lines of dialogue and the framing of some of that dialogue is bad. I felt some of the third person went on too long and should have been cut in favor of a more cohesive and pace setting first person. Also, there is a certain instance of third person explanation that undermined the drama of a situation. Which also, in my opinion, should have been cut. But this was Andy Weir’s first book, it was an EXCELLENT book; can’t wait to read what he writes next.