A friend of mine kept telling me I ought to read The Martian by Andy Weir because it was really good. So—over a weekend, while recovering from an injury—I listened to the audiobook as narrated by R.C. Bray. And I got sucked into the story immediately.
Mark Watney, the mission botanist, is injured and thought dead when the Ares III crew has to make an emergency end to their mission on Mars due to an intense wind and dust storm. Due to several lucky events, Watney is actually only injured and finds himself stranded on Mars with no way to communicate with his crew as they head back to Earth. Watney begins to think he may not have been so lucky, after all.
The biggest praise I have for The Martian is how realistic it is. Weir really did his homework on everything. Everything. This may be due—at least in part—to his scientist parents and his working at Sandia National Laboratories while still a teen. Perhaps that’s where he developed the sharp wit that shows through in his writing.
There are a lot of nerdy jokes in the story, which is something I don’t often find in hard science fiction. The story flowed smoothly throughout Watney’s journey as he first figured out how to not starve or die of thirst. He then figured out how to get in touch with NASA again. Watney was a very methodical character, and fun to “watch” as the story was narrated.
R.C. Bray was a wonderful narrator. He added dramatic flair to the text and made The Martian even more enjoyable, with emphasis in all the right spots. He even made a segment more interesting where individual ASCII characters were read to spell out something Watney needed to do. Bray really did a brilliant job.
For the secondary characters, my favorites were Mindy Park and Beth Johanssen. It was nice to see some geeky girls playing vital roles in rescuing Watney. Without them, the story would have been pointless. I found them to have depth and brains, something I love in characters I read. Weir also came up with some wonderful lingo—through Watney—for describing various things on Mars. And they made sense.
I really enjoyed this audiobook of The Martian, and I can see why they made the book into a very successful film, too. There was a fair amount of swearing, so that may be a turn-off for some. If you can get past that, you will find an really interesting story with a solid, fun main character. I strongly recommend it for older readers.
Release Date: March 22, 2013 (USA)
Publisher: Podium Publishing
Language: R. C. Bray
Alcohol/Drugs: 0 (other than some medical)
Language: 4 (frequent F-bombs, other strong language, other deity and mild)
Sexuality: 1 (brief innuendo and references)
Violence: 1 (extreme peril, nothing graphic)