Are you a space nerd? Do you perk up when you see NASA, Apollo, or Mars mentioned anywhere? Does the idea of exploring and settling on Mars seems not only feasible, but like a really good idea? If you answered yes to these questions, then read The Martian. Written by self-proclaimed space nerd Andy Weir, this book tells the story of Mark Watney, who is believed dead and left behind on Mars after a dust storm forces the rest of his mission crew to abandon the planet. Watney, who is both a botanist and mechanical engineer, tells his story through the logs he records detailing his daily survival plans, facing new challenges every day. Eventually NASA realizes he’s still there and everyone on Earth scrambles to try and rescue the lost astronaut.
Setting aside the feasibility of the story line and the science, what keeps this story going is Watney’s sense of humor. Yes, he’s a brave, hardy astronaut, but he’s also a nerd who can disassemble complicated machinery, listens to disco (it’s a plot point), and almost blows himself up countless times. It’s fun and gripping–I can already picture who’s going to play Watney in the movie. As a person who grew up in a city that helped build major parts of the space program, visiting the Space and Rocket Center each year on school field trips (and eventually working there), who has seen The Dream is Alive probably 20 times at least, I adored this novel so much that I wish Weir could strand Watney on Mars again for a follow-up book.