After watching The Martian (Ridley Scott, 2015) I decided to read the book behind the film and I was pleasantly surprised at how closely the film stuck to the book. If you enjoyed the film I would really recommend reading the novel.
The story is told in diary format through a Mars mission log. Mark Watney, an Ares 3 astronaut, begins the log after being left behind on Mars by the rest of his crew; they all got caught up in a fierce sandstorm, but Mark was injured so badly by a piece of flying debris that the crew thought he was dead. As soon as Mark recovers, he realises that he is alone and gets back to “The Hab”. This is the astronauts’ base on Mars. It is a pressurised dome containing all the essentials for the astronauts’ survival on the surface of Mars: water, oxygen, food and medical equipment and supplies.
Mark realises that he faces two main problems. Firstly, the communications equipment has been destroyed by the sandstorm so he has no way of letting mission control know that he is still alive. Secondly, there is only enough food in The Hab for 6 people for 60 sols (martian days). It will be FOUR years until the next Mars mission, so Mark’s chances of survival look pretty slim. Fortunately, he was the crew’s botanist and general handyman so he plans to survive and escape.
The Martian was packed with interesting scientific facts and dark humour. It also explores the desire of the human spirit to survive as Mark uses all his training to grow his own food and adapt the technology at his disposal to organise his escape from Mars. Because of the structure of the novel, you are constantly given an insight into Mark’s state of mind which I found fascinating.
I think The Martian would appeal to anyone interested in technology and space travel however – a quick word of warning, it contains language that Year 6 teachers would not approve of, so if you are still at primary school I wouldn’t read it in class!