As my long time readers may remember, a while ago I watched The Martian and I wrote about it, it was a great story and the book was supposed to be pretty good too – so I read it and I’ve got a few things to say about it.
Firstly the story is complete genius! As anyone who has seen the film or read the book already a mission on Mars is cut short becasue of a huge storm and in the evacuation one man if left behind, presumed dead by his fellow astronauts. The story is about Mark Watney’s survival and the challenges he faces just to stay alive.
Most of what I thought about the story is covered in my post on the film, but I want to look at the book and what made it genius.
Point of view
This is always the prompt for many author and writing posts on stories, what point of view is it being told from. It seems that becasue of the huge distances between Earth and Mars in the story, there are a number of points of view:
Mission Control on Earth
The crew of the spacecraft
At this point some writing purists are tutting and rolling their eyes about this but, this is how it has to be. There’s a lot going on and for the first chunk of the book you wonder if there’;s anyone else in it but Watney. Bu this sets the stage and brings the feeling of isolation so it’s needed. Mission control became aware that Mark survived and all their story on the challenges and politics around bringing him back are needed. The crew who left him behind are dealing with a lot of emotion and even more when they find out he’s alive and can rescue him, so they mutiny. There’s a whole story in itself right there! Finally the narrative is needed on only a couple of occasions when things go very badly wrong, but it explains the mechanics of what’s going on so well.
The mix of Watney’s logs and story telling makes for a dynamic and interesting read, if you’re into science or science fiction as a genre, it’s hard to put down.
As usual with any story there are things missing from the film that are in the book, that’s why I love reading the novels on films.I’m not going to spoil all the surprises but Watney rolls the rover while going into a crater, rather spectacularly doing a lot of damage. The end of the story is also very different in the book, I felt it was a little rushed maybe it had to be finished quickly of something but it was a slight anticlimax for me, the film’s ending was better I’m forced to say. But in the grand scheme of things no biggie.
What I loved
The detail in this book and the language used made this book the brilliant piece of work it is. With a mix of clever personal logs from the main character to the detail conveyed and the obvious painstaking research it’s a brilliant read. Add into this a mix of dark humour thrown in frequently which had me in stitches of laughter I would say that this is one of the best – if not THE best book that I’ve read.