This was in the house because it was WM’s school’s “one book one school” choice for last summer.Since the movie is out and doing well, I thought I’d grab it and give it a read.
I enjoyed it this book. There was a fair chunk of pages devoted to chemistry (how to make water, how to pull oxygen out of the atmosphere, etc) but even if you don’t understand it (spoiler: I didn’t) it won’t hamper your progress or leave you out of important plot devices. If you do understand it, you’ll probably have an even better time reading. It’ll be your bonus content.
Looking back, I don’t know why I liked it so much. It wasn’t suspenseful — at no point did I think Watney was going to die. Usually when there is peril in a book, I’ll skip to the end to see who’s still alive. I never felt the desire here. There was no character development — everyone stayed the same. There was no villain. Even when decisions were made that seemed to be purposefully bad ones, you understood why.
Watney’s diaries were great, and even better if you imagine Christian Slater voicing them. The scenes with the crews (both on Hermes and on ground) were good too, although I could have skimmed through the Hermes crew’s calls with loved ones. I know that meant to let us know that they all had something to lose, but again, no suspense. The occasional third-person narratives during pivotal scenes (“The astronaut turned around…”) were distracting.
Overall, a quick and breezy story, where the sum is greater than the parts. It’s a good book for daily commutes or reading-while-watching-TV.