Listen to This! Before It Hits the Big Screen

Editor’s note - Many of us in the library have read and enjoyed this book. It has been optioned for a movie, which will be directed by Ridley Scott and star Matt Damon. Another interesting fact: Weir self-published this book. Crown Publishing, a division of Random House, took note and purchased it. A sign of things to come for independently-published authors? We hope so.

The Martian by Andy Weir
performed by R.C. Bray
Brilliance Audio, 2014. 11 hours on 9 discs.
2015 Alex Award Winner
Starred Review

This audiobook was too good. Every time I stopped my car, I didn’t want to turn off the CD player and get out. Finally, when it was down to the last half-hour, I brought the final CD into my house to finish listening – even though I was already coming home late from game night. The entire book was tough to shut off at any time, but a half-hour from the end, it was impossible.

This book is set in the near future, on NASA’s third mission to Mars. Mark Watney is left behind when a freak accident convinces his crewmates that he’s dead. The book is about his struggle to survive. Using what he has (their mission was cut short), he works to figure out how to survive long enough to last four years until the next scheduled mission to Mars.

And that’s not easy. He doesn’t have enough food. He doesn’t have enough water. He has no way to contact earth. He is miles away from the planned landing of the next Mars mission.

Mark is a botanist and an engineer, and his ingenuity and resourcefulness are incredible. Everything he does to survive – making plants grow and making water out of rocket fuel for example – sounds like plausible science. And enough things go wrong to be completely believable. Just when you think he’s in the clear, something new almost kills him and new plans must be made. The description of the mission to Mars and the equipment sent is told in such a way that I caught myself thinking it’s already been done. I was so absorbed in his scientific achievements and ability to overcome life-or-death problems, I was disappointed when I finished the book and realized none of it is real.

The tension is gripping. The science is fascinating. And you grow to really like Mark, a guy who doesn’t give up even when abandoned on Mars. If NASA ever does send humans to Mars, I think they should read this book first. Just in case.

-Sondra Eklund, Fairfax City Regional Library

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