23rd October 2017

The Martian

The novel ‘ The Martian’ written by Andy Weir, centres around the life of Mark Watney, a NASA astronaut who is stuck on Mars.

Watney was left for dead on Mars while his fellow astronauts were forced to evacuate. Follow the botanist Watney
and his witty sense of humour as he learns to colonize, survive and conquer the mysterious planet of Mars. The most dramatic aspect of this book is the complete and total isolation of the main character Watney. Watney was
trapped on another planet, with no communication, limited resources and stuck in an environment with nothing but sand and rocks. While most people would be distraught under these extraordinary circumstances, Watney seized his opportunity and made his experience a challenge of a lifetime. After all, he was the first person to properly live on the mysterious planet! Every day he recorded what he did in a log, (just like a scientist would ), grew potatoes on a planet where nothing grows, created water and managed to survive on limited resources for 429 days. Some might say think he would become the loneliness man in the galaxy but was he? Watney filled any potential void of  loneliness with his love and passion for science. Without science, Watney would have had a difficult time coping on the red giant. A comparison to this aspect of the text would be the movie Cast Away. Cast Away is a movie
where the star Tom Hank’s plane crashes, he is the sole survivor and he becomes stranded on an unknown island for several years. Unlike Watney, Tom is not very passionate about science, he is more of a people person and finds the loneliness unbearable. Tom’s social with-drawls are soothed when he creates a lifelong friend out of a ball named Wilson and this becomes the focal point of the movie. He becomes so attached to Wilson, he even risks his life to save his friend.

The second enticing aspect in this novel was the number of risky situations and a number of times Watney skimmed under the wire of death. Watney first looked death in the eye’s at the beginning when the whole Ares 3 crew was evacuating Mars. They were in the process of aborting the mission and four of them headed out in a storm to prepare the ship for take off. As they were all working, the antenna broke off and hurtled straight
into Watney. A day later he woke up, with an antenna in his stomach and his team gone. Using every fiber of energy he had, he dragged himself towards the Hab to safety. Another example, when Watney was attempting to create water, he took everything into account; how much Oxygen and how much Hydrogen was needed. Unfortunately, midway through his process, he realises he hasn’t taken into consideration his breathing of Oxygen and CO2, and his plan, literally, blows up in his face. Like Watney says, “Sigh… Just once I’d like something to go as planned, ya know? Mars keeps trying to kill me.” These are t moment’s where Watney has to get up, brush
off the dust and try again. Watney’s determination to survive even when all the odds are against him, is what addedexcitement to this book and turned it into more of a thriller.
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Another text which compares to this book is the book called Hatchet. A boy named Brian goes through the same experience of being stranded alone when his plane crashes. These two text’s both relate to each other by the main characters having to survive with limited resources, Brian with only a pocket knife, Mark with his equipment left in the Hab . Brian does not have a passion that drives him like Watney, and he slowly slips into a depression. However, unlike Watney, Brian undergoes a lot of personal growth and character changes by overcoming his depression and focusing on surviving . He goes from being a scared spoilt child to a mature, confident boy, both physically and mentally. Mark ‘s character, however, did not really change throughout the book which made the book less interesting. Some books grab my attention from the first page and indulge me into a fantasy and journey through the book. This book, however, did not,maybe because I’m not interested in science or maybe I just wanted more character development. The only way I managed to pursue the book is because I enjoyed Watney as a character because his witty humor drew me in along with the odd riveting moments. I recommend this book for ages 13 and up, who look for a thrilling story. This book is also very interesting for anyone who is passionate about science.

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