You may be experiencing some difficulties in life but you're certainly not stranded on Mars. And if you were, I don't think you would be as resourceful, ingenious or as cynical as Mark Watney. I most definitely wouldn't.
Learning that the author Andy Weir is a “Doctor Who” fan completely sold “The Martian” for me although I kept wondering, what could possibly happen on Mars that someone could write an entire book and, better yet, have Hollywood produce it starring Matt Damon. It was a burning curiosity and I could do one of two things: commit the ultimate crime and watch the movie before reading the book, or read the book. Of course, I began reading, and was disappointedly surprised.
I laboured through 42 Sols (a Martian day) and five chapters with Mark Watney, the sixth man to walk on Mars and the only one left behind after a storm causes him to be separated from his Ares 3 crew on Sol 6. It also destroys all his means of communication with the crew or Earth. “The Martian” is an account of Mark's life after his “death” on Mars and in the first sentence he is already swearing. Well anyone would be, being alone on Mars and all. But as always, after a short panicky period, Mark gets himself together, thinks of a survival strategy and explains how he actually survived the storm. He also explains all the astronaut, space and NASA terms and gives multiple science, mechanic and botany lessons along the way.
After he makes a comfortable home for himself in the Hab (a temporary, oxygenated living space filled with supplies, that's sent to Mars before the mission crew arrives), Mark calculates how many supplies he has and realises he will not have enough food to last until the next mission, Ares 4, arrives. Ares 4 is his only chance of survival and getting off Mars. Again, he comes up with a plan, using his botany training: he begins to plant food inside the Hab.
That was about all Mark was trying to do, until Sol 42 when I almost gave up on the book. Then Andy Weir completely switched the mood of the novel to the point where I was letting out audible 'oohs', 'ahhs' and gasps. NASA finds out Watney is alive! Although they cannot communicate with him, the whole world is watching Mark's brilliant plan of survival and they continue to watch as he travels in his DIY space mobile to the leftovers of an old Mars mission. Using it, Mark finds a way to contact NASA and is finally able to communicate with Earth.
The book keeps getting better with the flip of every page. Life becomes good on Mars: Mark's crops grow beautifully, he gets a lovely letter from his mother and one from the president, the chance of survival is plausible, and NASA finally lets the Ares 3 crew know he's alive. But then another storm hits. Even more of Mark's equipment is damaged and his life is threatened in a whole new way. Smack in the middle of the book!
That's as far as I've read. I'm really anxious to find out what happens, and I hope you are too. Follow up on this review next week or, better still, grab yourself a copy from The bookYard to find out if Mark survives.