Rating: 4Q, 5P
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Mark is alone on Mars with nothing but his ingenuity and Disco.
The book tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney, who is accidentally stranded on mars after he is separated from his team and injured during a dust storm. His team believes him to be dead but in reality he was just knocked unconscious. When he wakes up, he finds that he is bleeding from his wound in his abdomen. This, in fact, saved his life, as the blood sealed a hole in his suit that prevented him from suffocating. The only thing in Watney’s favor is that he still has the HAB, a life-supported living quarters that they had already set up. It has food and supplies, not to mention oxygen and shelter from the harsh environment. Watney is alive for the moment, but a big problem looms: He only has enough food to last him a year and the next mission won’t be for another four years, not to mention that nobody at NASA is aware that he’s still alive. Watney must use his skills as an engineer and botanist to figure out a way to make his own food source and find a way to communicate with NASA so they can send someone to rescue him.
This is another novel that turned out to be one of my favorites of the semester. I really enjoyed the Cast Away meets Gravity premise and Mark, as a character, was always entertaining. I liked the fact that he had such a great sense of humor and that he used his brain to get out of tough situations. He rarely panicked and examined everything with a cool head. I also really liked the fact that the book didn’t just focus on Mark but instead included multiple perspectives from NASA and the other astronauts in his team. Sometimes it was a nice break to get away from Mark and all the science-heavy calculations he was making. It was also really suspenseful to know as a reader what was going on while watch Mark struggle in figuring it out. Despite the science parts, the book is never boring, especially in the last half. It really keeps you on the edge of your seat.
After reading the book, I was curious about the audio version, so I gave it a shot. I enjoyed the narrator and I felt like he fit the character. I think because most of the book is diary entries, the audio version works really well because it seems like Mark is leaving an audio diary instead of writing it down. Not my favorite audio experience, but I still very much enjoyed it.
Fast-paced, suspenseful, compelling
The Explorer by J.P. Smythe
Mars Crossing by Geoffrey Landis
Awards & Lists
Alex Award: 2015
Goodreads Choice Awards: 2014
Indies’ Choice Book Awards: Adult Debut Fiction
Library Journal Best Thrillers
LibraryReads Favorites: 2014
School Library Journal’s Adult Books 4 Teens: 2014
The Reading List (RUSA): 2015
• How does the science add to the story?
• How does the inclusion of NASA add to the story?
Justification of Selection
I’ve wanted to read this book since it was mentioned in class. I was very intrigued at the prospect of a Gravity meets Cast Away hybrid.