The MartianMarch 3, 2015
Believe it or not, I have a calculator on my side to confirm all the calculation by Mark Watney in the novel. So far, all calculation are correct, until I get bored past half of the novel.
The beginning is very interesting. An astronaut stranded ALONE in the surface of Mars. He has limited food and water. He can manufacture oxygen by separating O2 from CO2, given the machine is not broken. This is the story of his survival, until he was picked up. Called it a Robinson Crusoe crossed with MacGyver on the surface of Mars.
The novel is definitely action packed, a perfect formula for Hollywood movie. It is not surprising that it is going to be made into a movie right away, starring Matt Damon. It is also plot driven, without any brain candy or philosophical problem. If you can pass through the technical jargon (which you can skip anyway), you can quite enjoy the novel actually.
The main weakness of the novel is that the character is too perfect. He is not depressed even though disasters hit him one after another. He, with his cool-headed-brain, simply attacked all the problems he encounter with a stoic attitude. That is almost impossible, unless you are a trained Zen monk, maybe. By that, you know that he is unbeatable, and therefore takes away the element of surprise.
The plot is interesting. However, after half of the book, it feels like a bit repetitive. Problem hits unexpectedly, Mark Watney figured out how to solve it, until the next problem hit. The sub plot in NASA is quite refreshing because it breaks the monotony. It has more elements of surprise compared to Watney’s plot, and it has more human elements.
Final verdict, it is a solid FOUR STAR, but not enough to make it a new legend.