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text 2017-06-14 00:33
31 of 369 (8%)
The Martian - Andy Weir

Let me preface this by saying that I loved the movie of The Martian. I went into it completely expecting science fiction suspense, and it was one of the funniest films I've seen in a really long time. 

 

So far, the book is much the same (thank goodness!). It's got quite a bit more cursing than the film (which bothers me, but oh well), but so far that's the only stickler for me. Mark is a sarcastic, deprecating narrator, but he's smart and witty. I'm trying to follow the science, but since I'm the type of girl who gets low Cs on science tests (when you're allowed to use Google), it's slow going and most of it goes over my head. 

 

This is slow going so far because I'm kind of easing myself back into reading for fun. I grew up listening to stories when I went to bed, and I've been listening to the same "Emperor's New Clothes" collection since I graduated from college. I decided to listen to Fellowship of the Ring, but since I always fall asleep before the chapter ends, I'm also reading along. So my main priority right now is reading a chapter of Fellowship a day, and this gets fit in between that.

 

Sorry Andy Weir, but Tolkien will always be bae. 

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url 2017-06-02 21:13
Read the first chapter of Andy Weir's next book.
Artemis: A Novel - Andy Weir
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review 2017-01-12 11:00
4/5: The Martian
The Martian - Andy Weir

During a mission to Mars, Mark Watney is left stranded by a freak accident. The rest of his crew think him dead and leave for Earth.

This book should be subtitled “How to survive on Mars when everything there wants to kill you.” Almost every chapter has something going wrong for Watney, yet he manages to stay alive using the most powerful tools he has – his brain and his will to survive.

Watney is indomitable, a Martian Terminator. He won’t stay down, and it’s that spirit of resilience that carries the book. We all love someone who just. Won’t. Quit.

I say it’s Watney that carries the book, and I’ll stick with that. We’ll get to his character in a minute, but the rest of the cast are pretty flat and two dimensional. They exist only as props for the main action. And yet they work, because all we really care about is the guy on Mars. Everyone else can be the second spear-carrier on the left and it doesn’t really matter.

Watney himself is an odd character. He writes sometimes like a twelve year old, his logs full of exclamation marks and comments like “Look, boobs! (.Y.)”. The immaturity is striking against his other character traits. He’s a very smart guy, very determined to survive.

We never get a feel for what’s going on internally though; we only get surface impressions. Nothing about the intense pressure of someone living alone without hearing a human voice, without seeing a blade of grass, or even the simple pleasure of taking a shower. Very little about what it’s like to be where he is. I’m reminded of other stories about Mars that bear comparison – “I, Mars” by Ray Bradbury and his “Martian Chronicles” both of which give more insights into what people are experiencing as they wander the Martian hills.

The book is so much more powerful when we do get to see inside Watney – he makes contact with Earth, then goes back to his habitat and cries. When he’s being rescued, he asks for a minute when he sees another human being for the first time in years. More moments like that would have deepened the book.

Mars itself exists only to throw things at Watney. Weir is (perhaps intentionally) vague on what it would really feel like to be there, to see what Watney is seeing. Watney is trying to survive, but there’s nothing even as small as the way the Martian dust clings to his boots or gets in his hair.

Because of that, the setting of Mars becomes irrelevant. With a few tweaks, the story could have been set anywhere where the character is isolated and survives on his own wits. An asteroid or a desert island – if you don’t immerse me in where you are, it doesn't matter.

There are a lot of pages where this book felt like maths problems from a textbook: “I have 50 square metres of soil which I need to cover to a depth of 3.4cm. I need to irrigate it with 1.64 cubic centimetres per gram of water, how much will I need?” Fortunately, the answer is given instantly and it can be skimmed through without thinking about it.

As a last note, I saw the film before I read the book, and I think the two complement each other very well. A rare case where each is as good as the other.

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text 2016-12-30 18:01
2016 Wrap Up
A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness,Jim Kay
Cocaine Blues - Kerry Greenwood
Médicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois - Sophie Perinot
The Martian - Andy Weir
The Hourglass Factory - Lucy Ribchester
The Moon in the Palace (The Empress of Bright Moon Duology) - Weina Dai Randel
Outlander - Diana Gabaldon

It is a good thing I started 2016 with a bang because I am ending it with a whimper. Well, maybe not quite a whimper, more like less of a bang. Like one of those champagne poppers versus the full Fourth of July fireworks. I had all kinds of grand reading plans for 2016. I discovered reading challenge groups on Goodreads and it was like the universe magically expanded. Then I went out and got one of those adult full time job things. Good bye grand plans. One of the wonderful things about my adult job is that it is at a school which means I have been on break for the last week. This gives me time to review my year of reading.

 

Top 5 Reads 

 

1.) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

-This is a middle grade novel. I devoured it in an hour. At the end of that hour I was an emotional wreck. This book should be required reading for any child (or even adult) who is grieving a loved one. The illustrations were gorgeous. If nothing else, pick this book up for the pictures. This book is being made into a movie for wide release in 2017 (currently it is limited release), featuring Liam Neeson as the Monster. As much as I love Liam Neeson, I think this movie will disappoint me as much as any book ever made into a movie. 

 

2.) Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

-Phryne Fisher just might be my new favorite fictional female. She is brilliant. The best part about these novels going forward, they are short. I tried an episode of the television series. I think the actress cast to play Phryne is brilliant but the story line veered too far from the books to keep my interest. I might have to come back to it once I have worked my way through all the books.

 

3.) Medicis' Daughter by Sophie Perinot

-How is it possible everybody and their mother has written a book about the Tudors but there is so little about their counterparts across the Channel? The French royals are just as scandal filled as any of the Tudor monarchs. Marguerite de Valios is a tragic figure and the bride at the original Red Wedding. To me the sign of good historical fiction is when I find myself desperately wishing for history to change just to save characters from their known fate. This book had me crying like a baby, begging for Margot to be saved from her impending fate. 

 

4.) The Martian by Andy Weir

-I stepped well outside my bubble for this book. I am not a big reader of science fiction. I have minimal interest in space travel. While picking up this book is not likely to encourage me to read more science fiction, I'm not disappointed that I read this novel. Mark Watney had me in stitches. The other adult in my house was so curious to see what I was giggling about that he took the book from me as soon as I was done. 

 

5.) Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton 

- I knew nothing about Margaret Cavendish, the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society of London. This book didn't really provide me with a great deal of information about the Duchess but it was enchanting none the less. The words just floated along on the pages. Their was such a lyrical air surrounding me while I was reading that it was hard not to be disappointed when things came to an end after only 176 pages.

 

Worst 5 Reads

 

1.) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

-Yet another over hyped bestseller that reminded me why I stay away from over hyped bestsellers. I couldn't even bother to finish the last part of the book. I looked up the ending on Wikipedia. 

 

2.) The Visitors by Sally Beauman

-What should have been a fascinating thriller about the discovery of King Tut's tomb, was nothing more than a hot mess that should have been buried in a tomb. 

 

3.) The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard 2) by Rick Riordan

-At this point it is pretty obvious Riordan is only writing because Disney has already paid him. It's the same story with different characters (well, mostly different). The shots he took at police officers in this books was particularly deplorable. 

 

4.) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts 1 and 2) by J.K. Rowling

-I don't even want to talk about this. The disappointment is still too raw.

 

5.) Bohemian Gosepl by Dana Chamblee Carpenter

-Another highly recommended book that turned into an utter disappointment. 

 

Pleasant Surprises

 

1.) The Hourglass Factor by Lucy Ribchester

-I have little to no interest in the women's suffrage movement in England (despite being a woman who is grateful to all those women did for me and my daughters) so this book was not on my radar. It was a featured book at my local library. The cover was so amazing that I had to pick it up. One of the few times where judging a book by its cover works.

 

2.) The Moon in the Palace- Weina Dai Randel

-A beautiful novel about a time and woman history often ignores. 

 

3.) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

-A rare, over-hyped bestseller that I found myself in love with. I immediately went out and bought the next four books. 

 

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review 2016-11-30 10:03
The Martian: Scientific accuracy didn't matter, enjoyed the fiction
The Martian - Andy Weir

I read The Martian earlier this year and enjoyed it. While there has been talk of how scientifically inaccurate it is, that didn't sway my enjoyment. Read fast some of the parts about scientific calculations, accepted credibility of them by "suspense of belief", my attention was mostly on the story itself, the atmosphere surrounding it and Mark's psychological state. He is optimistic but I like to think he has his own moments of despair which he doesn't write about and hide behind humor and a pragmatic mind.

 

The presentation of some of problems are interesting, especially one chapter starts in a way that I think most readers would guess what's coming but Mark doesn't, which adds to sense of suspense pervading throughout the book. Some of the things Mark does for survival sound really crazy, hyperbolic and hard to believe, their length and physical labor involved, but I found them exciting and included them to the pile of "suspense of belief" already mentioned.

 

I expected the language of the book would be difficult but it turned out to be opposite. I found the read easy and despite the length of book it didn't took much of my effort to go through the story and finish it.

 

The description of technological objects are adequate to imagine them which I liked to do. Each reader might imagine them differently. Of course if they haven't watched the movie like me.

 

To conclude, The Martian would be a more interesting book to read if one looks beyond scientific and realistic inaccuracy and sees it as a sci-fi fiction similar to fantasy fiction. After all, fantasy fiction about magic, dragons and supernatural realms are read and loved. Why wouldn't The Martian, despite its impossibility, be loved?

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