I thought this was awful. So awful that I only got to page 69 and felt I was wasting my time so abandoned it.
This book was a best seller so what was I missing?
The book is about a man (whose name I can’t remember) who gets stranded on Mars during a space mission. The Book pretty much seems to be set in the present day. A crew of about six people have landed on Mars and there is a storm and they have to leave in a hurry. During the evacuation whats-his-name gets hit by debris and apparently killed so the crew sadly abandon his body rather than risk more lives.
But he’s not dead!
He comes round with an injury and makes his way to the buildings that have been placed on Mars over several missions. There are only basic supplies as it wasn’t intended that anyone would stay there for any length of time, and there is no way to contact Earth. He knows there will be another mission in four years that can save him but doesn’t have enough supplies to last anywhere near that long so if he wants to survive has to find ways to create food and water.
The next part of the book is a lot of detail about him working out his survival techniques. It is all written in the first person in the form of mission log entries. According to other reviews the science described about how you could survive in these conditions is excellent, all the calculations and facts have been well worked out by Andy Weir…but I don’t care! It’s boring reading about how much water you need to grow potatoes and about soil nutrients and oxygen supplies. Dull, dull, dull – at least in this context.
What I wanted to know is how Whats-His-Name is feeling. What is he thinking? Why is he so driven to ensure his survival? What is there on Earth for him to go back to? We don’t find out – at least not in the first 69 pages. He records his very detailed logs in an unbelievably irritating tone, it sounds forced and as if he is trying too hard be glib and funny at all times – and failing miserably. At no time does it come across as a realistic inner voice. I think he is lucky he was stranded alone, if I had been stranded with him I would have throttled him to death on day one even if that meant being left alone with no clue as to how to grow potatoes.
After an interminable 50 or so pages of potato growing (some of which I admit I skipped) the action jumps to Earth where we find out how his former colleagues are responding to his supposed death. This is boring too. All the ‘characters’ speak with the same voice, they are completely interchangeable and all talk in short glib sentences that don’t sound like real dialogue.
So I quit.
It isn’t that I hate science or realistic details but I think they are pointless in a novel if there is no heart to the story and no characters whose fate you are engaged with. Perhaps that comes later in but I needed at least a taste in the first 69 pages to keep me interested.