24 Books in 2015 - The Martian (November)

Keeping up with my 24 Books in 2015 goal has been difficult this fall, Hipsters, so I must report that I did not read two books in October. In my defense, I took on a side job (there will be a post about that in the near future) which has left me working 50+ hours each week and attempting to sleep and see other humans on occasion. When I get the chance, I read, but I've been sadly unable to keep up with my pace of two books per month.

I started two books in October, but I only finished The Girl on the Train. The second book, The Martian, was not completed until today.

I didn't know that The Martian was a book until right after Tadd and I had watched the movie. Typically, I read a book then watch the movie, and I hate to do that out of order. If I watch the movie before reading the book, I just don't enjoy the book as much for some reason. Tadd, however, likes when I watch the movie first, because he doesn't have to hear me whisper "well in the book...." 50 times during a 2.5 hour period.

Pleasantly enough, though, I did not encounter this problem with The Martian! Perhaps it was because the filmmakers stayed true to the book's story line, which was a lovely surprise. Of course, there were things that were cut out for time, but no significant changes were made. Kudos, 20th Century Fox!

Brief plot synopsis: during an emergency evacuation on a manned mission to Mars, astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on the planet and assumed dead (he got knocked out by some pretty heavy hardware, so that was a good assumption). Here's the thing, though: Watney is most definitely alive, and the story centers around his fight to A) survive on the planet and B) get back to Earth. Both are incredibly difficult feats - Watney has a front row seat on the struggle bus - but he has his background as a botanist, engineer, and an outrageous amount of creativity that help him along the way.

Things go wrong left and right, but somehow Watney always has a way to solve each problem and survive. Bear Grylls ain't got nothin' on Mark Watney, that's for sure. One of the most interesting things about this book is that it is highly scientific in its language. Since I don't have a science background, it was at times hard to follow when Watney explained how he was going to get himself out of his most recent pickle, but I appreciated the fact that the author, Andy Weir, didn't shy away from the technical language. Sometimes, though, Watney just describes his solution as "science," which worked for me.

The other great thing about The Martian is Watney's personality and attitude. He is at death's door so many times in this book, but he never fails to be sarcastic, hilarious, and generally positive in spite of his odds of surviving (those odds are low, in case you're just tuning in). I found myself laughing out loud every few pages at the things Watney would say, and I would send the very best ones to Tadd (he was also thoroughly amused). For your reading pleasure, I've included a few of my favorite quotes below (all quotes written by Andy Weir):

"Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped."

"With no magnetic field, Mars has no defense against harsh solar radiation. If I were exposed to it, I'd get so much cancer, the cancer would have cancer."

"If I could have anything, it would be a radio to ask NASA the safe path down the Ramp. Well, if I could have anything, it would be for the green-skinned yet beautiful Queen of Mars to rescue me so she can learn more about this Earth thing called "lovemaking."

Even though I have no scientific background, I was always fascinated with science, particularly astronomy, so books like The Martian are right up my alley. Reading it has even motivated me to do more research on astronomy and to keep up with NASA's goings-on. Just last week, a NASA video taught me just how fast astronauts fly during launch, and I promptly decided to stay put on Earth. I'll just live vicariously through Mark Watney.

How did you like The Martian, Hipsters? Let me know below in the comments section!

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