Before I read this book, I not only saw the movie (excellent,) I had the good fortune to see a video on YouTube that was a panel made up of the author Andy Weir, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, and former Mythbuster Adam Savage. What struck me was the fact that Hadfield was in full support of the realism of the story, from most of the science and math involved, to the way that the astronauts behaved. For me, that’s a pretty good recommendation.
Aside from that, it’s a good story and actually a fairly fast read. Mostly it’s a survival thriller with a lot of math and an unusual setting. And a nerdy, sarcastic wit that I think you either love or hate. Me, I loved it. Once my schedule cleared enough to give me a chance to sit down and read it, I devoured it.
Astronaut Mark Watney, due to a freak accident, has been left for dead on Mars, and must now somehow survive until the next mission comes by to rescue him. Fortunately he’s an engineer and a botanist (not as weird as it sounds; most modern astronauts have dual and even triple specialties and that’s usually one of the reasons they’re picked for the mission; space is at a premium in a spaceship and you really do need someone who can do two or three peoples’ jobs at once). This combination of skills enables him to fix things and grow food, both of which turn out to be essential to his survival. Like most astronauts he’s also a quick-thinker and a problem solver. Also, that sarcastic nerdy wit serves him in good stead.
Highly recommended as a good light read for a science fiction fan; perfect for a bus ride or a medium to long flight. And the science is pretty close to what we’ve got right now, so the read is fascinating if you’re interested in that kind of thing (like me).