Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
So I’m just going to come right out with it—I hated this book. I actually hated it. There was no part I enjoyed. No part that fancied my imagination. I hated all of it.
Harsh, right? Well, let’s discover the why.
Reason one: numbers. There are way too many numbers and equations in this book. ‘I have x amount of water. At X liters per day, it will last X many days. I need to find more water for X additional days if I don’t want to die.’ This is too much information that I don’t care about. I could care less about the exactness of the situation. I only need to know that he doesn’t have enough water and needs more. And it’s not just the water, it’s about the soil, the growth rate of plants, and on and on and on.
Reason two: the mechanics. This book strives to be a non-fiction manual on how to survive Mars. Yes, a manual. You know like your car manual, that thick-paged book you shoved to the back of your glove box never to be opened? Every system gets described in depth in this novel. From the research center (HAB) to a rover to batteries and more. More information that is not needed!
Reason three: the main character. The character of Mark Watney is obnoxious and self-absorbed. Maybe he was supposed to be that way, but it’s comes off as really annoying to a reader. He is unrealistic and sarcastic to the point that I often just closed the book. For someone who may be doomed to death on Mars, he doesn’t actual seem to really care in the long run. It’s more of a big joke for him. And that loses all of the plot suspense (if there ever was any).
Reason four: unrealistic dialogue. First correspondence back to NASA from Watney: “…Really looking forward to not dying. I want to make it clear it wasn’t the crew’s fault. Side question: What did they say when they found out I was alive? Also, “Hi, Mom!”.” Then there is extreme overuse of the word “Yay!” and things like “Look! A pair of boobs!-> (.Y.)”. Enough said.
Reason five: unrealistic situations. Getting stranded on Mars, possible. Finding a way out of every bad thing that happens in good time, not possible. Come on Weir, everybody fails at something. There are many difficulties presented in the book but for one individual to miraculous solve every problem and it all go to plan is ridiculous. Also, boring and predictable. I didn’t even have to make it to the last chapter to know how this one would end.
Reason six: zero character development. Watney is the exact same person you met on page one of the book as you will know by the end. The other characters introduced just fade to the background. They are stereotypical people: shy computer programmer, remorseful captain, feisty PR woman, resourceful/strong-willed leader. There is little more to them. Even their choice of words and thought patterns are stereotypes.
I will give credit to Weir for an outstanding amount of research to produce this book to the nth degree of accuracy. Apparently he started work as a “programmer at a national laboratory at age fifteen” with hobbies in “relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned space flight.” That explains a good deal of why this book turned out the way it did.
I wanted a nice space thriller with some intensity and what I got was a bland book filled with endless clichés and numbers (and I’m an engineer!). I’ve read other comments on this book where people took it more as a comedy, and perhaps that’s a better light to see it in. But even then, I didn’t find it funny. This book contains way too many meaningless situations and empty relationships void of development. Just a little bit of imagination, that’s all I ask for.
Would I recommend it to you? Only if you are infatuated with astronauts and space. Otherwise, I would just wait for the movie because you might actually enjoy it more than the book.