I started The Martian knowing very little about it because I haven’t seen the movie or read reviews of the book. It starts with Mark Watney being stranded on Mars and believed dead when a sandstorm necessitates his crew’s leaving only 6 days into what should have been a 31-day mission.
The majority of the novel is told from Mark’s POV via log entries he writes. At first I thought the book was going to be all about how Mark was growing potatoes in a Hab on Mars until he died or was rescued, and I wondered how Weir would get a whole book out of it, but he does a great job of building up tension and then releasing it. Things keep going wrong, Mark has to keep fixing problems, and then he gets a little break until the next problem arises. As the novel progresses, we start getting the perspectives of characters on earth – primarily those who work for NASA – and of Mark’s surviving crewmates who are on their way home. This change in POV help broke up what could have been monotony of reading about Mark trying to survive on Mars and doing pretty much the same thing every day.
Mark is a funny guy. He uses his sense of humor to cope, which I always enjoy and can relate to. His amazing intellect was harder to relate to, but he came across as human. There were times when the science and math he and the other characters were using was a little too dense and technical for me, but that didn’t take up so much of the book that I got bored. I really enjoyed the book, enough that I do want to check out the movie, and I’ve now added another Andy Weir book to my library wait list.