Contrary to what the general public probably believes, the movie The Martian from 2015 starring Matt Damon is actually based on the novel of the same name by author Andy Weir. Then, I saw the movie in the cinema and have afterwards seen it multiple times in TV. And in my opinion, the premise is quite fascinating. Therefore, after having heard it being mentioned in positive manner on the book podcast What Should I Read Next, I decided to go for it.
I have approximately one hour of commute to work each day. And wanting to 1) use my time more efficiently and 2) up my reading game, I decided to give The Martian as an audiobook a go. I have never listened to audiobooks before. Quite frankly, I was rather convinced that it wouldn’t be anything for me at all. But it proved me wrong.
I don’t know if it was the captivating story or the committed narration – or both – but I was really hooked. In fact, I was so hooked that I even walked around with the stroller (and my child, of course, I am not a weirdo) way more than usual just to listen to the book.
But enough with all that. Let’s talk about The Martian.
A Brief Summary
“They say once you grow crops somewhere, you have officially ‘colonised’ it. So technically, I colonised Mars. In your face, Neil Armstrong!”
The year is 2035, and NASA has send their third expedition to Mars, Ares 3. The expedition consists of six people, all experts within different fields of science. After six sols (analogous to Earth days), a sandstorm forces the expedition to abort. During the evacuation to the MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle), the botanist Mark Watney is knocked out and lost in the sandstorm. The rest of the team searches for him without success and, in the end, they are left without choice but to leave the planet before it’s too late. Watney is stranded on Mars!
After regaining conscience, Watney returns to the Hab (the home of the team while on Mars) only to find out that all communication to both his team and Earth is down. Since the expedition was meant to only last a month, and with the next expedition (Ares 4) planned to arrive four years later, the supplies for Ares 3 are not nearly enough for him to survive. Put in other words, he is f**cked (pardon my French, but they are in fact the words of Watney himself … or they could be, no doubt).
The novel unfolds Watney’s attempts to solve his imminent problem of starvation and general survival. And he must do whatever he can to stay alive facing the unknown forces of the barren planet.
My Thoughts On “The Martian”
The Martian takes you on a journey to outer space. Weir is beautifully able to capture the solitude and isolation of the stranded Watney. Somehow, you can relate to the horrible sensation of being absolutely out of reach to anyone and anything, whatsoever!
The novel is told partly through regular story-telling and, more or less, mainly through Watney’s regular logs. This sort of narration allows Weir to make Watney’s monologues rather humorous. And believe me, they are. If I were stranded on Mars, I would be depressed as hell.
The performance of the narrator of the audiobook is the icing on the cake. The emotions with which he tells the story are extremely engaging. I had no idea audiobook narrators made voices and accents!
Put briefly, The Martian is a phenomenal book. Weir has indeed created an action-packed and incredibly captivating novel. And with (allegedly) accurate scientific explanations and descriptions of Watney’s problem solving (which is really good stuff to an engineer, by the way!), it makes it feel all the more realistic. In spite of all the science stuff, which occasionally tends to go right over my head (especially when listening instead of reading), the book is a real pageturner. And yeah, I know, I didn’t read it, I listened to it. But it was really hard to press the pause button, whenever I had to!
The Hard Facts
Andy Weir is an American author from California. Before starting his writing career, he worked for several years as a software engineer. He describes himself as a “lifelong space nerd” with various hobbies within the field of physics (andyweirauthor.com).
His debut novel, The Martian, was initially published as a free web series by Andy Weir himself in 2011. Later in 2014 Crown published it in print, and it held the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List for several weeks. It was adapted to film in 2015 with Matt Damon starring as Mark Watney.
The approximately 11 hours long audiobook on Audible is narrated by R. C. Bray. It won the 2015 Audie Award for best science fiction audiobook.
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Image by Luca Rüegg on Unsplash.