The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review via NetGalley.
Warning: If profanity offends you in any way then this book may not be for you. It starts off with profanity right from page one and continues throughout the book.
The first thing I thought when I read the synopsis (which at the time consisted of a single line saying “The adventures of an astronaut stranded on Mars.”) was ‘How the heck does someone, astronaut or not, get stranded on Mars?’. And it was that thought that had me wanting to read this book and find out exactly that as well as how an astronaut would even survive being left behind on a martian planet.
While the book didn’t start off with a strong pull I found myself fairly quickly becoming absorbed in the story. Surviving a near death experience is usually something of a miracle in itself, but doing so on a martian planet with no way of communicating with Earth to let them know you survived and yet having the will and desire to fight for your life is something entirely different. I admit at first I thought Mark Watney, the astronaut who is stranded on Mars was crazy. If I were in that situation I think I would pretty quickly give up and admit to defeat and death. Yet the fact that Mark did just the opposite of that and decided to not only live but to eek out a living on the planet until he could be rescued shows he is one determined man.
Attempting to survive on Mars is no easy task and there was a lot of work for Mark to figure out just how he would accomplish such a feat. In doing so there was a lot of descriptions and explanations on how and why he was doing a certain task, modifying a certain piece of equipment, risking everything in order to keep living. There were times when I felt the story was bogged down by the explanations of how he was changing this machine to work better or do a slightly different job that initially intended and, yet when I think about it, had those reasons and ways been left out of the story I would have been questioning how he had accomplished that feat. So while it did seem to bog down the story at times it was a necessary evil in order to satisfy the reader.
Things picked up in the second half of the book. The story shifted away from the ‘how to survive on Mars manual’ feel to a true survival story with a rescue in site even if it wasn’t a one hundred percent sure thing. But knowing that a rescue is on it’s way and actually getting rescued are once again two very different things, and once again Mark had to overcome a large number of hurdles in order to see this happen.
There were a couple of times when the writing made me shake my head slight. A good example of this is when I came across the sentence “…it could kill me to death”. I had to stop and wonder about that. Would it be possible to be killed not to death? Could it not have simply said it could kill me?
Overall I quite enjoyed this book. The story isn’t entirely original, a similar story can be found in the movie Cast Away, but it is enjoyable. Survival stories do have their appeal and this one certainly has an extra element of danger to it give the harsh Mars environment and the number of factors that are stacked against Mark. I would recommend this book to fans of Science Fiction as I feel they will find it quite appealing.