The Martian: A Review of a Science Fiction Novel

The Martian:  A Review of a Science Fiction Novel

Samuel recommended a science fiction novel to me:  The Martian by Andy Weir.  Mr. Weir is a first-novel hero in my view.  He published his chapters in 2011 through his blog.  Subsequently a publisher put the book into print in 2014.

I’ve used the acrostic ‘MARS’ (ain’t that cute?) to review this engaging and successful first novel from a new science fiction author.


The premise – the pill to swallow, so to speak – is lone survival on a hostile planet, a kind of space Robinson Crusoe.

Astronaut Mark Watney inadvertently – and you’ll have to read the book for an explanation as to why I said ‘inadvertently’ – finds himself stranded on Mars.

Robinson Crusoe had an easier struggle, a tropical paradise in comparison.  Mark Watney faces an unforgiving environment, a planet unaccustomed to sustaining life.  Though Mark has years to wait until another mission can rescue him, he has only days worth of food.

NASA chose Mark for this Mars mission because of his training as a botanist and all-around fix-it guy.  His skill set is certainly put to good use.  He does some math and some fancy handiwork to stretch his resources.  It was either do that or die.

And in school you said math wouldn’t help you!


This book captivated me from the first page.  I wanted to know what Mark, our ‘Martian’, was going to do to remain alive to the next day.  For that reason, the book was a fast read for me, truly one difficult to put down and get on with daily chores and the like.

Though The Martian has quite a bit of science, it is presented in such life-or-death situations that keep you thinking along with Mark as he struggles out of one setback only to face another.  Personally, I found the science intriguing, but that’s the nerd in me.


Astronomy photo credit: Skiwalker79 via photopin cc

About the time I was about to put the book down and leave Mark on Mars, the novel’s view changed to Earth whose inhabitants first learned the news that an astronaut had died then found evidence that the astronaut had survived and been abandoned.

Horrors for NASA.  Now what to do?

You’ll have to read that for yourself.


I hesitate to fully recommend The Martian without warning you about its language.  It’s pretty crass.  Not just an ‘f’ bomb, more like ‘f’ carpet bombing.

In places, foul words do get the reader’s attention and even suit certain characters, especially and ironically the lady in charge of media relations.  Maybe that’s not ironic at all.  But all the yuck is not how I speak or write.

So, caution.  If four-letter words offend you, you need to read something else.


The Martian is true science fiction.  It doesn’t take a stretch to imagine this scenario happening even with today’s technology.  The book is as much like the movie Gravity in showcasing the harshness of space as it is unlike Star Trek’s overly-romanced view of extraterrestrial life.

If you like a good, fast-paced, summer science fiction read, I recommend The Martian.  Read it now before the movie hits the theaters, a movie starring Matt Damon as Mark Watney, the Martian.

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  1. Lucy June 26, 2015 #

    Sounds awesome!

  2. Matt June 27, 2015 #

    Hooray for math! Fortunately I wasn’t the one who had to do it, Mark Watney was. I just got to read about it!

  3. Steve Bellinger January 23, 2017 #

    Just finished reading The Martian. Totally agree with you! Have not seen the movie yet, plan to do so soon. I can’t image the film being as good as the book, but we’ll see. Have you seen the film? do you think it does the book justice?

    • Drew Ellenwood May 2, 2017 #

      Steve, I’m glad you enjoyed the book. Yes, I do think the movie does the book justice, though the book has more intrigue and nuance. Hope you’ve seen the movie by now.

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