We've all done one or the other, haven't we: read this book or watched this movie. I watched the movie when it first came out, completely oblivious to it being a book first. To be expected, the movie was fantastic. But how does the book compare?
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive – and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills and his background as a botanist, he confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
This book offers a lot of different things to any reader: it's action packed, there's plenty of humour and so many twists and turns! The writing style was quick, witty and fast paced. It was also educational in some ways, with there being a big focus on the science of Mark's survival. Of course there is plenty of times when something goes wrong and this causes a huge amount of stress and panic. Fear not; because as it turns out, there is no one on Earth that is more equipped to being stranded on Mars than Mark Whatley. It did feel rather convenient that of all of the crew members that were on the expedition, the one that has a very extensive and advanced knowledge of botany was the one to get left behind. Mark's unbelievable level of resilience is somewhat overshadowed by the fact that he has all the answers. I never felt much of a sense of dread on behalf of the protagonist, simply because various things go wrong (by no fault of his own, because Whatley would never make a mistake), and Mark never seems to bat an eye. There is an enormous hole in your living structure, so all of the potatoes you have spent 3 months cultivating are destroyed, and what do you do? Simply say, "Dammit". No mental breakdowns ensue, which is shocking with the scale of the disaster: starvation and death, stranded alone on Mars. Not a great way to go if you ask me. The characters continuous optimism was somewhat irritating, as it didn't feel realistic. I love imperfect and unlikeable characters, and I think it couples with an extended level of respect for the writer. It must be very hard to write as a character that you don't like, or a character that makes mistakes. But Weir did not do this. Instead, Mark was the perfect candidate to get stranded, knowing what to do no matter what hurdles were thrown his way and continuously keeping a cool head. Despite the characterisation not being particularly 'out there', you will still undoubtedly root for Mark and be locked into the mindset of wanting everything to come together for him. There are conflicting opinions and personalities when it comes to the side characters, which amped up the dynamics during interactions. I also have to point out that the film is a great adaptation, as it was incredibly similar to the book.
Overall, this book is a great action packed sci-fi and I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading it. It gets incredibly high reviews for a very good reason! However, if you're looking for a complex, moody character with consistent mental breakdowns, you will be disappointed!
Initial Prediction: 5 stars
Final Rating: 4 stars
Publication Date: 28 August 2014
Publisher: Del Rey
Genres: Sci Fi
# of Pages: 369