The Martian: A Novel
Category: Science Fiction
Synopsis: Astronaut Mark Watley is left behind on Mars. Even if his ingenuity keeps him alive, will NASA be able to get him home?
Date finished: 23 April 2014
Rating: ***½ (Since I was reading something completely out of my comfort zone, I decided I could break the rules by using half-stars. I really feel it’s better than a three, but not quite a four.)
I. Read. A. Science. Fiction. Book. I know, right?
Well, I’ve been reading toward a full card in the Full House Reading Challenge—even though I haven’t signed up yet. One of the challenges is to read a Sci Fi book. My intention was to use that as my one free “Skip” because I just don’t do fiction, much less science fiction. But, it IS supposed to be a challenge, after all. And when the blog world went into buzz hyper-drive over this book, I thought I’d check it out. I watch scores of Sci Fi movies, and swarms, storms, and space are my favorite subgenres. This sounded like a movie I’d watch, so I decided to give the book a try.
I guess you could say I got exactly what I expected. Here’s the thing with fiction, for me. Most of the fiction I’ve read in the past has been plot-heavy but light on technique, characters, and meaning. There’s very little subtly, and the plots are just too unreal. And I’m not talking about dystopian fiction, or even science fiction. I’m talking about run-of-the-mill, straight-forward fiction. I know that’s what most folks LIKE about fiction. It just has never worked for me.
So, although I enjoyed this book, I thought the plot was good, and the solutions were fabulous, it drove me nuts. I know it’s silly to expect nuance in science fiction, but I did expect great characters to go with a great plot. Instead, the characters, male and female, young and old, Americans and foreigners, administrators and peons, were all exactly the same. They were all immature, sarcastic, swearing, smart alec boy-nerds. Every NASA employee, including our main character, thought and spoke like a 15-year-old guy. It drove me bonkers.
I realize I may take fiction too seriously. But I take writing seriously. And the characterization just didn’t measure up.
But, I was able to force aside my frustration and enjoy the book for what it was, a smart out-of-this-world adventure story. (See what I did there? Snort.) I have no idea if any of the science in this book was accurate. I hoped it was, and if so, it is really quite phenomenal. The mind that can create the problems and the solutions and still write a passable book is kinda brilliant. I acknowledge that.
I just wish the entire experience would have been that smart.
Would you recommend this to a friend?It was fun and worth the read, yes. You’ll be light-years ahead (snort) if you know your metric conversions, though.