Book Review: The Martian

*Spoiler Free Review*

I enjoy reading and watching stories of a character navigating an extreme situation – being left on Mars, alien invasions, the apocalypse – and hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. I think it has something to do with human nature that we want to see ourselves tested beyond what we think we can endure and overcoming insurmountable obstacles.

What would I do in this situation? What would I do to survive? What would I do to help someone else?

The 2011 novel, The Martian by Andy Weir explores the idea of an astronaut left behind on an unforgivable planet and having to figure out how to survive it…for four years. Mark Watney is hit by debris during a mission on Mars and presumed dead. The crew aborts the mission and Watney is left behind, no dead weight. Luckily he has some tools at his disposal from the mission: a habitat, a couple of rovers, and a bit of food and water. Now he has to learn how he can make it all last the length of time it will take for the subsequent mission to reach the planet and hopefully rescue him.

I enjoyed the continued raising of the stakes. If something could go wrong, it did, and although the science and math of figuring out how to fix things and extend the life of equipment, etc. sometimes went over my head, I didn’t study physics or engineering, reading about how Watney calculated how to solve all the problems sent his way was interesting. Given he only had so many resources at his disposal, he had to rely heavily upon his wits and use those things around him in unexpected ways.

There are, of course, a few things that stood out that bothered me at times. Watney keeps a journal, and although sometimes it comes off a bit juvenile in language and context, he’s alone without anyone to talk to so I felt it was a way of keeping himself amused. I let that slide. Once he’s able to establish contact with NASA, we meet all the people who are working towards bringing him home, among them, Annie, the media relations rep who’s been written as the foul mouthed, short tempered female amidst a slew of calm, brilliant men, and this trope always bothers me. Maybe it’s representative of the misogyny that still exists in these types of environments, because there are a few comments made in regards to the looks of one of the female astronauts on the mission, and that is so irrelevant. And in this near future, can’t we have moved on from this?

My only other complaint is how little we get to know Mark. His journal entries are mostly about fixing things and a few personal notes. We get a little information from the crew and the team at NASA that he’s clever, has a good sense of humor, and the mental fortitude to survive such an ordeal, so while I was rooting for him, I never felt like I knew him, and maybe that’s okay. He’s a fellow human, in a dire situation, and in a bit of a moral quandary. What are we willing to do for one person?

I enjoyed this read. It was quick, it was entertaining, and it was unexpected.

If you have a book to recommend for my 2023 reading challenge, please leave a comment below, or join me on Goodreads so we can share what we enjoy.

Happy Reading!

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My First Annual Best of List

2022’s Best of Review

Every year I set for myself a number of goals – reading, writing, and watching among them, and I thought, why not share the best of what entertained me this past year.

I am almost always behind the times. I am rarely current on anything, but I figured some of you may be like me and want to know what might still be worth the effort, so I’ve compiled my first “best of” list.

Taking note of the books, graphic novels, tv, films, and video games I enjoyed this year, I realized not all categories had a love option, but there were definitely some standouts.

Books & Graphic Novels

I use Goodreads to keep track of my reading goal, in addition to ratings and what else I’d like to read…eventually. They use a five-star rating system and not one book I read this year received such high marks, although I did have two books that tied with four – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I’ve included the links to my reviews, if you’re interested. Each are unique in their own way, as is the artwork of Harleen by Stjepan Šejić, my top graphic novel of the year, which, too, earned four stars. Although, it really is a piece of eye candy.

Television

I watched a great deal more television than I anticipated, and I still feel Arcane by Netflix based on the game, League of Legends by Riot Games is the best thing I watched. The story, the characters, and the style are all top notch. This may lead you to wonder then at how a reality show made it on my list.

RuPaul’s Drag Race is one of my favorite things ever, and The Sis and I are longtime fans. All Stars Season 7 was a unique experience in which the cast were all returning winners vying for a chance to be called the Queen of All Queens. Not only was this one of the best shows I watched all year, the cast is stellar, but also this is probably my favorite season of the show of all time.

Movies

I made my movie watching goal and then some. Yay for keeping expectations low(er). My viewings this year were a mix of past and current films, those in my genre, and some just because. While most were middle of the road, disappointing, and/or forgettable, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar was never going to be counted among those. No surprise there. The surprise was liking it as much as I did. If you’re late to the party, like I usually am, this is definitely still worth the watch. Runner up, Free Guy. I know, it surprised me too.

Video Games

Yes, I invested in the Legendary Edition of Mass Effect. Did I already have the trilogy? Yep. Does EA need more of my money? Sigh. When Dragon Age: Dreadwolf comes out will they get more? You’d better believe it. Mass Effect 2 is still one the best games I’ve played, and the Legendary Edition only made everything better. Streamlined graphics, all the DLCs save one, and it is still a great time. This playthrough I tried my hand at being a Renegade male Shepard who romanced Tali and made some difficult decisions. That’s the fun of this series, there are so many options to explore, and that’s why we keep coming back, no matter what you may think of the ending. 😉

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So, there we have it.

There are so many more books, shows, movies, and games to enjoy, so you can imagine how my new year’s lists are already bursting, but I’d be delighted to hear what you enjoyed most this past year. Please share your recommendations!