The Martian is a science fiction novel by Andy Weir. It was published in 2011. I heard about it last year shortly before the movie version was released. I don’t always enjoy science fiction as it can get too technical for me. Usually I prefer the fantasy and paranormal genres. However, there was a lot of talk about The Martian on various book blogs that I follow, so I decided to check it out.
Mark Watney is on a mission to Mars with his crew when a storm too strong for mission safety parameters blows in. During the evacuation, Mark is hit by debris. Believing him dead and unable to find his body in the storm, the crew evacuates without him. But Mark is not dead. The story follows Mark’s struggles, triumphs, and the overall adventure while Mark tries to survive and return to Earth.
I was quickly swept away with Mark Watney. I couldn’t put the book down. It was so engaging, interesting, humorous and full of adventure and mishap. It was a great read. All of my worries about overly technical science fiction was not an issue for The Martian. All of the technical details were explained in a funny, interesting and knowledgeable way.
Mark’s sense of humor threw every catastrophe he faced into a new light. An explosion was not a tragedy, it was a new challenge to be faced with many laughs to break up the tension. In the midst of various difficult and potentially dangerous situations, Mark was still laughing and making sharp quips. The tension never bogged me down, even though it was heavily there through most of the story.
Final Grade: A
I strongly believe that the book is almost always better than the movie. Every now and then, such as with Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, the movie is good enough that I can enjoy it as it is and not constantly compare it to the book and have it fall short. In the case of The Martian, the book was definitely better.
Unlike the novel, the movie had trouble balancing the humor with the tension. I felt dragged down as the drama was heavily played and the humor was only sprinkled on. It felt too serious with all of the worried faces, the extra shots of Mark’s emaciated body, etc. It was fun, and it was a good movie. But the book was so much better!
After finishing the book I felt light hearted, amused and entertained. After finishing the movie, I still felt entertained, but I felt tense and almost relieved even though I knew the outcome before I watched it.
The pros of the movie were Matt Damon and the scenery. I thought Matt Damon would be great in this role as he has a way with humorous roles, and he was really good. The scenery was amazing! The film created such a lifelike view of Mars.
Final Grade: B
I have recommended the book to many people and all of them loved it. I just can’t make that same recommendation for the movie. It was a good movie, but the book was great.