Reviewing Any Weir’s best selling novel: The Martian, with its different science fiction elements and some of its human behavioral elements.
The Martian by Andy Weir is a bestselling novel with a movie adaptation that left the world in awe of Mark Watney, the main character who by misfortune is left on Mars and finds himself trapped by his team in a life and death nightmare. His story is an epic story of survival. The novel is like a science fiction “The Swiss Family Robinson”, which takes place in space rather than a deserted island. Mark Watney’s story of survival isn’t about the survival per se, but it focuses on the “how to”. The intimate reader/character relationship begins when Mark Watney starts recording his methods of survival by “creating food” through establishing a farming environment rather than trying to look for one, which obviously is an impossibility considering him being stranded on Mars, and making water through combining oxygen and hydrogen together. Another reason behind the intimacy between the character and readers is Mark Watney’s ability to being sarcastic during catastrophe.
The idea behind the novel was to focus on the future and how it will look like once the world is able to travel freely to Mars. Weir has succeeded in making this look more realistic than most of the science fiction pieces that seemed to focus on space traveling, and this is because he does not use flying cars and such as a science fictional element. This actually adds a realistic touch to the novel. Mark Watney does not solve his problems using laser beams and high-tech. The trip to Mars did not take hours, but months. This on its own puts The Martian on a pedestal in the world of contemporary science-fiction. Mark Watney has an unforgettable voice and gives himself the chance to laugh it out even in the midst of his disastrous survival.
I have personally struggled with the scientific details that went on and on for chapters, but let’s face it, The Martian is a piece that is targeted to nerds as its main audience. This novel was not probably targeting those, such as myself, with an attention span of a goldfish when it comes to science.
The Martian is far from perfect. There are some things that I found strange and to me, that’s where the gaps are. Mark Watney was left stranded on an alien planet quite literally. However, he did not seem to show any signs of loneliness. There were no sentiments towards the life he left back on earth. As a reader, I would assume that someone in his circumstances would, at least, leave his family a message –considering the time he spent on Mars all by himself-. Shouldn’t he, at least, show signs of a breakdown? Shouldn’t he have panic attacks every now and then? No matter how level-headed Mark Watney is, I would, at least, expect him to address the fact that he’s millions and millions of miles away from home and his death may be inevitable. Another issue for me was the way he found the solutions to his issues so easily. It did make me feel like those solutions were written before the obstacles were even presented in the book.
This however does not mean the novel was not great. It was a bit confusing, but it was still fun to read. The themes of the novel were great, one of which was survival. Humans care about each other and this was addressed in the novel so strongly. Everything is significant in the cycle of life. This was represented in Watney’s ability to grow potatoes out of nothing, quite literally. Whether you love this book or hate it, there is no denying that it deserves to be on every best-selling list out there.
Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)
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