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The Martian by Andy Weir

Reviewed by Shaan

 the martian

Meet the book behind the 2015 science fiction film The Martian, starring Matt Damon. This book illustrates the true challenges of living on Mars, even more so than the dramatized movie. Andy Weir starts the book on Sol 6 of the Ares 3 mission. There, the narrator, Mark Watney, tells the story of how he got stranded on Mars. His crew evacuated from a sandstorm, and Mark was hit by debris. Because of a few lucky coincidences, Mark survived and woke up the next morning with the MAV, Mars Ascent Vehicle and the only way off of the planet, gone. He made his way to the Hab, the “base”, and he slowly took in his situation. All communications dishes were destroyed, and He had no hope in fixing them. However, he did have a decent amount of provisions. NASA planned the mission to last 30 days with 6 people, so he had somewhat ample amounts of food. Also, because NASA has ridiculous redundancies, they sent extra food to be safe. However, he would eventually die if he did not find a way to communicate. Mark only has one goal, find a way to communicate with Earth. However, he most likely has the best skill set for his situation. As a mechanical engineer, he will be able to fix most of the possible malfunctions with equipment. Also, as a botanist, he could be able to make food to last him a much longer time. However, even with all of his efforts, he cannot live forever. Will Mark be able to get back to Earth safely, or will he die all alone on Mars?

I thought that Andy Weir wrote the book in a hilarious manner. The book spouted really interesting information in a funny personal voice. The humor was not over the top, and it still gave an accurate depiction of life on Mars. Using log entries to tell the story, the novel develops a very personalized experience. It almost feels like you are reading old transcripts from a past NASA mission. It also mixes in tidbits from life on Earth, so people still understand what the full picture of the story is. The book really gives you moments where you laugh out loud. It takes gallows humor to the next level.

I found this book to be very interesting. The mixture of fact and fiction was really cool because it helped me learn while at the same time letting me enjoy the ingenious story. I also liked how he wrote in the perspective of logs. That way, we would only see Mark’s plan and Mark’s afterthoughts about the plan for whatever goal he had in mind. I also liked how as readers we felt very connected to what was going on back at Earth, even though Mark had no idea what was going on. I think that this book added a level of depth into NASA that many people would not know. The book gave insights to how the structure of NASA worked, and how NASA operates alongside the government. We see one of the people at NASA send a petition to the government to ask for funding for another Mars mission. Personally, I had never thought about how NASA gets its money for all of its launches. This book really illuminated how NASA works. Personally I like this book because it completely changed the way I think about space exploration. I've never read a book that has this much in detail and yet is still interesting.

Anybody who enjoys science will definitely enjoy the book.  The book is really witty, so it is easy to get a laugh out of it. I would rate this book a 10/10 because of its gripping storyline, its hilarious humor, and its educational topics.

Check out The Martian at the Newport Beach Public Library.

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