This book is riveting from page its first lines, “Log Entry: Sol 6. I’m pretty much fucked.” Mark Watney, a botanist and one of the first humans to walk on Mars, has just discovered he’s stranded on Mars with no hope of survival. Then he addresses each problem one-by-one. There is a lot of action, Mark goes through a variety of emotions as he faces problem after problem, then proceeds to look for a solution.
The book has strong, believable characters. The science and engineering are very solid. You can sense the amount of NASA training he’s experienced and the preparation for this mission.
The book also tells the story of people on Earth and the other five astronauts en route back home. Each thread is well-told and just as gripping. Many times, I could feel the NASA experience, having worked at JSC early in my career. It felt very natural. Toward the end of the book, the tension and sequence of preparations for the Mars liftoff reminded me of the many launches in the 60s.
The story also has a human dimension, where many people go to extraordinary means to help an individual. The world becomes captivated in Mark’s fate, and nations go to action to make things happen.
The book is awesome, I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying it. I’ve restrained myself from seeing the movie, now it is a high priority for me!