The Martian by Andy Weir
From page one, I was totally hooked on Andy Weir’s The Martian. From the first few lines, I knew I’d spend the entire book with a character I liked. It’s a survival story, just like Cast Away or 127 Hours or Buried. Only the lead character isn’t some kind of keening asshole. He’s really likable. And he’s determined to stay alive.
After being marooned on Mars, Mark Watney tries to figure out a way to stay alive using what’s been left behind. He’s MacGvyer’s the fuck out of everything, tearing down and repurposing billions of dollars of high tech equipment in an effort to survive. There’s hopefulness and hopelessness in equal bounds, and Weir does an excellent job of making us really like Watney. It starts out like a journal, but quickly we get involved with the JPL folks in Pasadena and the NASA folks manning the mission. It becomes this globe spanning effort as the world watches as they try to rescue Watney.
All the characters are strongly developed, and now I’m even more eager for this to work as a film. I can see how they’d want to parse it down for a PG-13 rating, but the language is part of the charm of the book. Watney’s f-bombs are fucking hilarious and well-timed. There’s something wonderful and freeing about an astronaut swearing like a sailor. Just like when Buzz Aldrin punched that moon-landing conspiracist right the fuck out.
Weir published this for fun and cheap on his site, and it became an international bestseller and for good reason. I really hope more people glom on to this. It’s easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, if not this best book. I highly recommend it. Both for its tension and for its superb humor.