As always, I’m incredibly behind on posting book reviews. But I couldn’t wait any longer to share my experience with The Martian by Andy Weir, which I actually listened to, instead of reading. Either way is excellent, but the fact that part of the story is told through Watney’s daily logs makes the audiobook especially suited to sharing the story. And let me tell you that R.C. Bray does an excellent job of characterization. Other than main character Mark Watney, I especially loved his voice acting of Annie Montrose, NASA public relations specialist, as well as Mindy Park, the shy, unappreciated NASA engineer who becomes essential to the mission. Of course, Weir’s writing gave these characters such life that it’s hard not to love them all.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone, regardless of your preference for science fiction. If you were like me and had to know more about Andy Weir and his process for writing this, check out this Air & Space Magazine interview with the author. Turns out that Annie was one of the most fun characters to write for Weir, as well as one of my favorite ones to read about!
Anyway, here are my answers to the online book club’s questions:
1. Does anybody else have a bit of a crush on Mark Watney after reading this?
I would have to say 100 percent yes! I will also add that I’m pretty sure my husband has a bigger crush on him. When I checked out the audiobook from the library, I also grabbed a copy of the hardcover, which my husband promptly read in less than two days. He was faster than me this time, although I was limited by small amount of time I spend in my car, thanks to my short commute. He was constantly giggling at Watney’s brilliant sense of humor, which is a pretty hilarious sight to witness.
2. Do you think the crew was right in leaving Watney behind?
Yes. Commander Lewis had a responsibility to her crew. She did what she could to find Watney, only turning back when the safety of the rest of the crew met with critical danger. I’m not sure how NASA would feel about it if this were a real-life situation, but I think she did the right thing given what evidence she had on hand.
3. Do you think it’s realistic that Mark could have kept his sense of humor throughout his ordeal?
I don’t think I would be able to do what he did (I sometimes want to give up on the rest of my day if I stub my toe during my morning routine), however, I think the character was realistic. There are people out there who are resilient, who think on their feet, and who refuse to give up. Indeed, Weir wrote that NASA looked for these type of individuals in looking for crew members. And humor is definitely one of those things that many people rely on to live through an ordeal. I, myself, have turned to humor – and not a small dash of Watney-style sarcasm – to survive trying times. I love that he is not cool-headed the whole time. I mean the first words of the book are: “I m pretty much f**ked. That’s my considered opinion. F**ked.” So, yeah, I think Watney is that sort of guy.
4. Matt Damon is going to be playing Mark Watney in the upcoming movie version of The Martian. How do you feel about the casting decision?
Can Matt Damon play the kind of guy Watney is, the brainy botanist, the quick-thinking survivalist, the snarky, scrappy man? I honestly am not sure. I have a hard time envisioning any actor as any character I read in a book. With the exception, I think, of Daniel Radcliffe, no actor has ever embodied a character the way I pictured them, but that’s not a bad thing. Actors have the unenviable task of absorbing the entirety of a two-dimensional character and extrapolating that information into a fully fleshed person. Many times they play the character better than I ever imagined. I will say that my earliest memory of Matt Damon was him playing a straight man masquerading as a gay man in an episode of my all-time favorite show Will & Grace, so I think he can pull off the humor necessary. Plus, he’s had both nerdy and physical roles, so he might be able to handle the mix of the two in Watney’s character. I just can’t wait to see Kristen Wiig drop some f-bombs and snark on some NASA scientists as Annie Montrose. That chick can do anything.
5. How many times did you think Mark was really, truly, going to bite it?
I actually had two gasp moments where I literally had to stop the book and turn on something else for a while because I was so sure it was the end. That’s the beauty of an audiobook. I can’t tell how many pages are left, so I don’t know if the story is going to end because Watney just died. ****SPOILER****The first one of my moments was when the Hab airlock breaches and the second is when the rover rolls over. ****SPOILER**** For the first incident, I was actually driving my car and I almost drove off the side of the road in shock. That’s how you know it’s a good book!