The Martian by Andy Weir
A MISSION TO MARS.
A FREAK ACCIDENT.
ONE MAN'S STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE.
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he's alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, Mark won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.
But Mark's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills--and a gallows sense of humor--he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.
As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.
But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.
I LOVED this book! I was looking for a science fiction book of some sort to read for the Sci Fi Experience and read a review for this book on a blog (I wish I could remember which one so I could thank them for turning me on to this book!) and it sounded pretty good. Sadly, it isn't pretty good. Happily, it is beyond excellent!!
Mark Watney and a team of astronauts from NASA are on a mission on Mars when a sandstorm with winds of 175 mph arises and lasts for over an hour. The spaceship that will be used for the team to leave MARS isn't made to withstand sustained winds over 150 mph so word comes from NASA to abort the mission...on the sixth day. But who can take the chance that they might all be stranded on another planet? With no other missions scheduled for at least four years? The team heads out and a series of events causes Mark's suit to be breached and his team to believe that due to this he is dead. However, he isn't and now he is stranded on Mars and has to figure out how to survive. He has limited food supplies but he figures he can stretch out the supplies for a good long while and he is a botanist and is able to create a potato farm which I thought was pretty ingenious.
In fact, many of the things that Mark is able to do I felt were ingenious. He is also a mechanical engineer and this comes in handy MANY times. The science in this book was often beyond what I personally know about science so I was not able to make judgment calls on whether it was "sound" or not, but I understood just enough not to feel stupid while reading the book. Mark, our narrator is also so down to earth (ha ha) that he helped keep me grounded in the book even when the science went way over my head. This book's single greatest strength is Mark's voice. He is smart but also very funny in a sarcastic-y, I-want-to-hang-out-and-drink-beers-with-this-guy kind of way. Mark used this humor to keep himself going and the author used it to keep me reading. I don't quote books in my reviews, but there were many awesome lines in this story that made me think about it!
Just when things would start humming along for Mark, something would happen to set him back, a kind of one-step-forward-two-steps-back timing that kept the suspense ramped up. There were also chapters from the POV of NASA bigwigs when they realize that Mark may still be alive and then they are working to figure out how to bring Mark home while he continues to work on surviving as well. This is a fast paced book and I read it in one sitting--I just could not bear to put it down! Whether this is your usual type of book or not, do yourself a favor and try it...I can virtually guarantee that you will not be disappointed!
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I borrowed this book from my local public library.