The Martian

CheneyBooks I've Read10 Comments

themartianI succumbed to all the hype surrounding this book and finally read in on my Kindle.

I had actually downloaded it ages ago, probably before it was picked up by a publisher and it was still among the ranks of the self-published newbie sci-fi books. Then it sat with hundreds, yes, hundreds of other books I’ve downloaded for free or for a few bucks over the years and haven’t gotten around to reading yet.

But then all of a sudden The Martian was on top of all the sci-fi lists, so I was like, yay! I don’t even need to buy this because I already have it! And I dug in to what I was expecting was going to be a great book – because when you get tons of publicity and you’re ranked at the top, I DO EXPECT the book to be good.

Well, this time unfortunately I didn’t think the book lived up to the hype.

Don’t get me wrong – I CAN see why a lot of people loved this book, and they all do a great job of explaining why in their own reviews.

If you want to want to read The Martian, maybe you should go Goodreads and check out some five star reviews. If you’re up in the air, stick around and hear why I didn’t like the book:

First of all, I didn’t care for all the scientific jargon. At first it was okay, because it was expected. Being on Mars is something that we don’t understand, so it’s likely that an author will work hard to explain what things are like there from a scientific standpoint. But wait, that’s not what actually happens. Actually we get the specs of neverending parts of landers and rovers and habitats that don’t even exist. Actually we get to hear constantly about the temperature and atmosphere of a planet we’ll never visit. It was just too much. It was constant. And it was BORING.

There was also no real description or reflection on what Mars was like. Mark Watney was alone on Mars. He started out at the martian landscape for over a year and never really talked about what it was like – what the colors were like, what the sunshine looked like from so much farther away.. Why leave that out?

Character development was WEAK. Who’s Mark Watney? He’s the guy stuck on Mars. But does he miss anyone on Earth? What was his childhood like, his parents? Who are his friends, other than his fellow astronauts? What does he miss about Earth? Why should we even give a crap whether he gets to go home?

I didn’t really give a crap whether he got home.. other than thinking to myself “I’ve read X amount of pages of this damn book, he better make it home!”

Finally, I was constantly waiting for something incredible to happen, but it didn’t.

I kept having the feeling that in the next chapter there would be an incredible discovery or something awesome would happen.

That Mark would round a large boulder in his rover and find a Martian civilization on the other side that our satellites somehow missed.

That the ground would crack underneath him and he’d find a hidden ocean buried with Martian sealife.

By the last 20% of the book I was even hoping he would contract a Martian parasite and die horribly and alone…

ANYTHING.

ANYTHING interesting.

But no.

The entire book was just one bout of bad luck after another. Something would break, he would fix it, and then something else would break. He would discover an insurmountable problem, then fully explain the science and MATH on how to overcome his problem. He would overcome! Miraculously! But then there would be a threat to his air supply. Or his water supply. And so on. And so forth. Over and over and over again.

Martian Whack-A-Mole.

Alas, I am not going to recommend The Martian to people when the ask me about some good sci-fi.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

10 Comments on “The Martian”

  1. I loved this book until I read your review/critique and thought on it. Um…yeah, I would have to agree with much of what you wrote here. Now I feel cheated! A whole year plus on Mars and nothing about what it looks like…no real exploration. May as well of been on Earth stuck out in the desert with a flat. Good job here.

    1. Haha! Well I am not sure whether to be flattered that I swayed you or sorry that I took some of your book enjoyment away!

      I just think, if you have this guy in a unique situation, being stuck somewhere alone where no one has ever been alone before.. Do something interesting with it. It’s science FICTION after all.

      And now that I think about it, he didn’t even really talk about loneliness other than a few comments about not having seen a woman in months (that I can remember.)

      I need to just write my own damn book!

      1. I read that the author wrote the story for some friends in an attempt to show them the plausibility of surviving on Mars for a year with tremendous support or supply. He researched for a bit and then threw the trek together as a vehicle to carry his research on survival on the red planet.

        I liked the nerdy science of it. Until your review I hadn’t really thought of it as a real story. When looked through with a critical lens such as yours I was forced to agree with your assessment. What needs to happen is some guy named Mark Whatney actually get stuck there and go through the same trials and tribulations and they can call it non-fiction instead. 🙂

        1. That’s definitely a story I would read but wouldn’t dump a dude on Mars to get it, lol!

          I bet the movie will be better than the book. Because it sounds like a great movie, and I hear Matt Damon is playing Mark Watney. Hopefully in the movie version he’ll just do all the things instead of explain all the scientific things in minute detail 🙂

          1. Ridley Scott is directing and he is my all time favorite director. Despite this I am not blind to his less than stellar works of late. Robin Hood was not so great. Could have been but just wasn’t. Prometheus I wanted to love. I’ve watched it too many times to candidly share out of my embarrassment. Gods and Kings or whatever that terrible looking thing is called just looks…well, terrible. Really hoping that Matt Damon can add some much needed dialogue to The Martian. That dialogue can be spoken or shown. Either way it needs to be more than a guy growing potatoes and grunting as he moves solar panels about in the sands of Mars. Fingers crossed.

          2. I agree. Although I enjoyed Prometheus, thought it was pretty great for a prequel. I’m sure we will get a lot of inner monologue for the movie.

  2. This is the first I have heard of it.

    When it comes to Martian stories, I will always hold all others to Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. That’s a pretty high bar for anyone though (if you like Bradbury, that is)

Feel like sharing some thoughts?