- The martian : a novel / Andy Weir.
- Grand Haven, MI : Brilliance Audio, 
- 9781491523216 : $49.99
- 9 audio discs (approximately 660 min.) :
- Science Fiction
- Large print
Mars astronaut Mark Watney fights to survive the harsh environment of the red planet long enough to be rescued.
During an emergency evacuation of Mars team Ares III in a sandstorm, astronaut Mark Watney is left behind for dead. Except, he’s not. Watney survives his initial injury and loss of suit pressure and somehow makes it to safety. Unfortunately, he has no way to communicate to NASA that he is alive. With the next Mars mission not due back for four years, Mark must figure out if he can survive to rendezvous with that crew. Drawing upon vital skills as a botanist and mechanical engineer, he overcomes hurdle after hurdle, becoming a problem-solving expert. Can his skills and his will to survive overcome a planet that seems determined to kill him?
In audiobook format, it was difficult to get through the first disc. The entire first disc was very scientific as the main character talked himself through solving each problem. The narrator read this in a dispassionate scientific tone of voice. For the casual reader not enthralled with science, this came across as very boring. When the scene shifted to Earth, however, the book became a lot more interesting. The narrator proved himself very capable with different voices and several accents. More human interest was added as the reader encountered the reactions of various characters to the situation. Tension was maintained as everyone worked the problems and the reader wonders, “Will this work?” However, the author also adeptly inserted humor to relieve the tension. Despite continuing long, scientific monologues, the reader becomes invested in the survival of this one astronaut. It is a compelling story with an appealing hero who never gives up and who makes us laugh with his snarky commentary. This is a recommended read, but be aware that the language can be a little rough.
This book was first self-published as an ebook, then was picked up by Crown Publishing and is the author’s debut novel. It was quickly optioned for movie rights, and the movie debuted in October 2015.
Visit the author’s website.
YouTube interview with Adam Savage
An interview on Mashable
Science geeks will love this book that is loaded with real or potentially real science. Because of the likable character, sense of humor, and human interest factor, lots of non-scientific readers will also like this story.
Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson. Both novels are “hard science” sci-fi with well-developed characters dealing with harsh planetary environments.
I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. This book shares the genre science fiction and a character who is the lone surviving human on a world.
Mars Crossing, by Geoffrey Landis. These books feature astronauts stranded on Mars. They also share richly detailed descriptions and plenty of “hard science.”
Alex Award; Goodreads Choice Award; Indie’s Choice Book Awards, Adult Debut Fiction; Library Journal Best Thrillers; LibraryReads Favorites; The Reading List (RUSA); Audie Award
A booktalk could focus on the initial stranding of Mark Watney and a description of the problems he must solve–food, water, air–to survive. For humor, you could also throw in his reaction to discovering that his entertainment choices are disco music, 1970’s TV shows, and Agatha Christie novels.
One of Mark Watney’s greatest assets was his determination to survive. How would you rate yourself on that quality on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being “I would take off my suit and die”?
Watney doesn’t waste much time talking about his isolation. Talk about what that would be like. How would you handle it?
Did you agree with Mitch’s decision to leak the rescue options to the Ares III crew? Why or why not? What factors make risk acceptable?
This book had a lot of science talk. How did that affect your enjoyment of the book?
Why I chose this book
It is a popular sci-fi pick, and a co-worker recommended it highly.
Martian/Mars, potatoes, NASA