01 June 2015
Rating: 1 / 5 stars
I really wanted to enjoy this novel. It was selected by my book club for a read, which I didn't get to in time, and it has gotten a lot of positive feedback on Goodreads. In addition, I LOVE me a good sci-fi suspense/thriller in space, and with Mars the next frontier, it appeared as if all the stars had aligned and brought this book straight from the library onto my lap.
And then I started to actually read this book. And after only 45 pages of Weir's God aweful prose/Mark's narrative, I just couldn't stomach it anymore. Around page 35, I gave up for the night. Then I tried it again the next evening, thinking that perhaps I just needed to look at it with a fresh set of eyes. I only made it another 10 pages before closing this book for good.
The premise is so exciting, which I think makes it even more upsetting to me how terrible it is. A lone astronaut, abandoned on Mars, presumed dead due to a series of circumstances, left to struggle to survive while he tries to figure out how to even communicate back home to Earth that he is alive to even hope that NASA will send a rescue mission. It is the ultimate struggle, alone on an abandoned, uninhabitable world. This book should have kept me up all night reading with my husband grumbling at me to turn off the bedside lamp.
Instead, it turned out to be a novel with a terrible narrative. Meet Mark Watney, astronaut of the hour. Considering the nomenclature he uses in the opening pages, I would expect him to be an arts and craft teacher or something else of limited higher education without a whole lot of extraordinary skills. And yet, I came to find out, he is apparently trained not only in mechanical engineering, but is a botanist as well? What? He talked/narrated like a ten-year-old. The further I read, the harder I found it that the narrator is a well educated, middle aged man. Especially with all the exclamation points! And all the stupid phrases that no one past puberty uses! Even the sarcastic humor felt forced and dry most of the time. This novel really felt as if a teenager wrote it as a bad science writing assignment, where he tried to make it a fictional novel, but really attempted to just throw in a bunch of badly researched science and called it a day.
I did like how Weir tried to make Mark snarky. After all, it definitely seemed appropriate for a guy who thinks he is going to be able to survive on Mars for four years alone without going completely mental. I don't remember what the research shows, but especially isolated in space, soooo far away from the rest of humanity... well, there is a reason astronauts only stay for about a month or two at a time at the ISS, and NEVER ALONE.
Weir had good intentions and a hooking plot, but in the end this book is just plain terrible. Do not even attempt. It is the Fifty Shades of Crap or Twilight of sci-fi.