Hello Internet. Welcome back for Review #6. I think I’ll let this book speak on it’s own behalf.
When someone asks me “Hey Jester, do you want to read a book called The Martian? It’s about a man on Mars,” I would light up like a Christmas tree because it tripped about sixteen sensors in my brain that seek out books that I haven’t read and sound interesting. And a few other sensors that scream “MARS! READ IT NOW YOU WORTHLESS HUMAN, I DON’T CARE IF YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO BUY IT AND GET AN ICE CREAM AS WELL!” To which I would reply “Have you heard of lower case? It makes sure you don’t kill people with the decibel level,” and, “Dammit, I like ice cream.”
So The Martian (I have no idea whether the T in “the” should be capitalised, as the title is in bold on the cover) is a sci-fi/deserted on a desert planet book, where the ever-humorous protagonist needs to keep himself alive on Mars when a manned exploration goes awry and he is stuck there by himself while his crew take off without him. Of course, there is a huge amount of things that can go wrong, and a large number of things do go wrong. And (sort of spoiler warning? It is pretty early in the book) when NASA realises that he’s left on that red planet, after assuming he was dead for the past fortnight, PR execs throw a fit.
Most of the story is told from first person past tense by the protagonist, in the form of a multitude of audio and written logs. So yes, at the start of the chapter it does say whether he dies at the end of it. But bits told on Earth, and in the ship of the crew that deserted him, are in real-time, so it does show quite a contrast to what is happening and how the lead says it happens. Since I’ve never heard of this author before this is possibly his first book, and it is really quite a professional exercise in different styles of writing. The different ways things that are happening in the storyline are explained and presented make for a brilliant springboard for a first novel, and as a writer myself (I dabble) I envy how smooth the transitions are between first and third person.
A positive start to a new take on the sci-fi genre, this author clearly knows what he’s doing. The found-footage equivalent of the many records and conversation logs are brilliant, and even when the author tells from the perspective of an inanimate object the story is fast-paced and gripping. You never really know what’s going to come next in this book, and the ending is satisfying and rewarding. An awesome experience for all Mars buffs and survival novel fans in general. Well deserving of a read.
The Martian was published in 2014 by Crown Publishing, and can be found on Amazon here.
Yours: J.M. Pear