by Andy Weir
4 stars - way cool Martian adventure
ALR Blue - no animals on Mars
Mark Watney. Left for dead on Mars. Not dead, but all alone.
An unexpected and fierce dust storm forces an emergency evacuation of Mars by the crew of an expedition mission. It's not their fault they thought Mark was dead. He'd been blasted off into the countryside and his spacesuit wasn't transmitting any life signals. It was either leave him or get the entire crew killed.
Mark's got no communication with either the space craft (now headed for home) or Earth. He's got some food, some water, some oxygen, and a NASA created habitat to live in. Now what?
Well, with nothing but time, he draws on his skills as a botanist and his NASA training to start solving his issues one at a time.
The story is comprised primarily of Mark's journal entries, but does have a few chapters focused back on Earth (once they realize he's still alive). Written by an actual smarty pants engineer, the book takes us through Mark's problem solving exercises, all completely plausible, without getting too bogged down in technical detail.
For me, one of the highlights is that there is no tedious attempt at human interest background. Mr. Weir could have dedicated chapters to flashbacks of Mark's life on Earth leading up to the pivotal event or (worse) some dumb romantic entanglements at NASA. Nope, instead the reader is kept firmly in the present and that's great. Staying alive on Mars is interesting enough. No need for mushy stuff.
It's easy to see why this book was optioned for a movie. I hope they don't muck with it too much. It's a great story just the way it is.