Last year when I saw The Martian by Andy Weir, I couldn't resist picking it up. The bright orange cover compelled me to open the book, and the first two lines hooked me into reading one of the most thrilling stories of 2014. Now it's a movie, due to open October 2, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon--perfect casting. It looks stunning in this trailer, which is good news, because Weir's novel deserves the best treatment possible.
|Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, N.C. recommends The Martian, too.|
Astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars. A severe dust storm caused his Ares 3 crew to abort their mission; thinking he had been killed, they raced for their ship. He's alive, but what now? He has no way to communicate with Earth. A shelter--the Hab--is designed to last for only 31 days. Enough food to last 300 days, and four potatoes. A small amount of Earth soil with bacteria. He has, or will soon have, manure. And, oh yeah, it will take a rescue mission four years to get to Mars. But Watney is a botanist and mechanical engineer, so he figures he should be able to find a way to stay alive. In the meantime, "I wonder how the Cubs are doing."
Watney is very funny--sardonic and self-deprecating. It's a trait that serves him well as he figures out how to create arable soil. "Fear my botany powers!" Or how to create water, which provides him with many opportunities to die in a fiery explosion. Weir salts the narrative with humorous asides that take time to build: when you get to a line like "Disco. God damn it, Lewis," the payoff is stellar.
If the movie is half as good as it looks to be, people will be flocking to see it and then to bookstores to get a copy of The Martian (Broadway Books, $15 paperback). --Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers