Man from Mars – A to Z Challenge

As is wont to happen, my to-be-read list is always piling high and my little notebook is crawling with book recommendations and future conquests and purchases. Two years back, I started to take on reading challenges to get me back into the habit of reading; a 9-to-5 really throws your life askew.

The second book I picked up this year was The Martian. We all know the basic premise of the story. An astronaut on a mission to Mars gets stranded on that blessed red planet in 2035, while the crew takes off for earth. So when the movie was nominated in the best comedy category, I was perplexed. Okay, maybe just the premise wasn’t enough. The dude’s stranded. On MARS. How could anyone see the subtle humour in this?

So I bought it. And proceeded to fall in love with it.

There are many reasons for me to cling on to the book, and I go about recommending it to anyone who cares to ask me for my honest opinion. As a child, I was fascinated with space and anything extraterrestrial. This was the defining moment in life when I acclaimed I wanted to be an astronaut. I even made a rough sketch of my rocket, which was to be shared with two other mates. And then I made the mistake of choosing the science stream in standard 11, and all my plans quickly went out the window.

There are many things to love about this book, and the opening scene is bang on point – drama, intrigue and character.

“I’m pretty much fucked. That’s my considered opinion. Fucked.”

The character of Mark Whatney is hard to resist. A biologist and mechanical engineer, he garners public sympathy from the word go. It is a story of survival, against all possible odds, especially in a hostile environment. Mark is all about dispensing interesting scientific facts, facts that we’ve probably learnt in school but is now rotting in the back of our brains. I mean, who would have known that for every kilogram of hydrogen that is sent to Mars, one can make thirteen kilograms of fuel. Interesting, isn’t it? Such facts help while making small talk at parties, conventions or even in the elevator. Collect such facts. (Ignore me if I sound a little like Ross Gellar.)

“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”

Not to mention the twists in the tale of how makes contact with earth, and his fellow earthlings have been fumbling their way through this PR disaster, then PR success to an almost outer space revolution. How he begins to grow potatoes in the habitat and burns hydrazine to make water, how he manages to drive 3,200 km to the Schiaparelli crater where a subsequent mission was to land in four years, and how he manages to retain his sanity through it all. Fascinating!

However, the essence of the story is in its narrative. Yes, the story is interesting and unique, but the wry humour and wit that seeped into the essence of Mark Whatney through Andy Weir is stupendous. And this is the latter’s debut novel. I was hooked to the book, and managed to finish it over a weekend in January. When not reading the book, I was cranky and irritable, especially at the dinner table. But what a journey!

This post is part of the seventh annual A to Z Challenge that takes place in the month of April. The theme for this month is ‘Every Day Musings’. It’s my first attempt at this. Feedback is most welcome, constructive criticism, even more. Share your experiences and let’s enjoy this month of fabulous blogging. If you want to know more about this challenge, click here.

17 thoughts on “Man from Mars – A to Z Challenge

  1. THe Martian was recommended to me by a friend… well a podcaster I feel is a friend. I mean they talk to me while I’m in my pjs and out walking so they must be friends. Anyway… I got the audio book and loved it. I missed it when it came to the movie theatre in our town but will catch it one day. I actually listened to it by myself and then told my husband about it and we listened to it on a long car journey… we loved it All the best with the rest of the A to Z challenge. We are half way through now

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved both the film and the book, which I also read over a weekend because I didn’t want to put it down either. Great review.
    PS what’s wrong with sounding like Ross Geller?? “You know that smell gas has? They put that in.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have watched the movie but not read the book. The movie was good. I did not know it was nominated in the comedy category. Really? It’s funny cos the movie was about survival.


  4. I loved this too, listened on audiobook and then went and saw the movie which was great too. Then I listened to Andy Weir on a Youtube presentation. He is so funny.


  5. I haven’t read the book yet but I loved the movie. I love the message of buying time by trying anything and everything rather than giving up, no matter how impossible the situation seems.


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