I had been holding off on reading The Martian, not because I thought I wouldn’t like it, but because I have an aversion to anything which is insanely popular (except Gangnam Style – I still love that thing). And last year everyone was talking about The Martian, telling me how good it was, and that I absolutely had to read it, which is a sure fire way to turn me off. But once that the publicity machine for the movie started, I caved, knowing I had to read it before the movie comes out. How did I deny myself this pleasure for so long? It is a perfect five out of five.
It’s only the mildest of spoilers to reveal that the plot involves a member of a Mars mission left behind when the rest of the team leaves, and his struggle to survive until the next mission turns up four years later. It’s engaging from the first sentence, the main character is charismatic enough that you start rooting for him right away and as far as I can tell the science is solid. There was no artificial drama, no characters with dark secrets, no contrived plot twists (however I’m going to go out on a limb and guess at least one of those turns up in the movie). It was just solid, well written & suspenseful. It was a binge read for me, and I begrudged every second that I had to do something else other than finish it. The secret of this book I think is the broad appeal. SF fans obviously would like it, but I think people who like military stuff a la Tom Clancy would like it as well. I am one of those people who always tried to read a book before I watch the movie, but if you skew the other way, I would still suggest you pick this book up. It’s not a difficult read and it’s really worth it.