I bought this book myself from Tesco, I only went in for milk!
In space no one can hear you scream, so they say, in Mark Watney's case this is good as complaining loudly about disco music and seventies sitcoms in decidedly not macho astronaut behaviour.
Mankind has travelled to Mars and has finally set foot upon the barren red planet, two journeys and stays upon this inhospitable neighbour of ours have gone like clockwork until the crew of Aeres 3 wake up on Sol 6 and discover a sandstorm with incredibly high winds heading straight for them, the crew of 6 evacuate but on the way one of them is fatally injured, the rest have no option but to continue without him to the safety of their ship in orbit, the Hermes.
Except their crew member is not dead, injured yes but Mark Watney is still very much alive and now all alone a long long way from home.
The Martian is mainly told from Mark's POV in a diary style, each Mars day is a Sol, this book starts on Sol 6 the day of the storm and it captures Mark's unbelievable quest to stay alive, he has no way to communicate with Earth after the equipment being damaged in the storm, he needs to figure out how long he has till he runs out of everything.
Now the thing is if I was stuck on an planet by myself I'd probably go crazy but Mark is just amazing, he is an astronaut but he is also a botanist and a engineer, and with those skills he is able to prolong the duration of his time. He does it with such a good natured outlook, his humour saves him from going mad.
He has access to rovers, spacesuits, everything he could possibly need (except a rocket to take him home) and with these tools he starts exploring this vast planet, he knows probes have been sent to Mars before, he knows where they have landed, if he can get to them he could communicate with Earth.
On Earth, NASA are relived that the 5 crew members are safe and Mark Watney is hailed as a Hero, commemorative stamps are issued, schools will be named after him but that all changes when a satellite picks up the red planet and unusual things are spotted, signs that Mark is still alive, the team focus all their energies on seeing what he is doing, will they be able to contact him and will they be able to bring him home?
Well I won't tell you what happens but this book is just a pure breath of fresh air, space is such an inhospitable, dangerous, scary place but Mark makes it seem just a little easier to bear, there is a lot of science in this book explaining all the bits and bobs he needs to do to survive but I really enjoyed it, the explanations of all of these processes really adds to this books incredibly smart read.
The Martian is funny, smart, thrilling and most of all human, Mark talks about everything from the problem of going to the toilet in a bag, how to plant potatoes on Mars and how not to blow up things by mistake!
It never slows down, it grips you and as it nears its amazing climax you can feel yourself urging Mark along, oh and it has a map, maps are good!!!
Awarded 5 out of 5