I’m sure pretty much everyone knows about The Martian by now, from the film trailers if not the book, but it’s so good that I’m going to review it anyway. I’m mostly reviewing the book here, but I’m going to cover the film too. In short – both are great. Read the book. Then watch the film. Then read the book again.
WARNING: Slight spoilers ahead. I’m doing my best to avoid them but a few small ones might creep in, so why not just take my advice above and read the book? No? OK…
I really loved the book. The main character, who I think I can safely mention ends up stranded on Mars, is both likable and adaptable. You want him to survive, and as he takes steps to do so in the short and then longer term the ways he finds are clever and interesting. More than that, they are (as far as I can tell) pretty much all bang on scientifically and this book really goes into the science. This is true hard sci-fi, yet without letting it get in the way of the story. I not only loved the book, I really felt like I’d learnt a lot when I finished it.
My only caveat on the first read was that the character really seemed to have a lot of bad luck, but on the second read after watching the film that feeling wasn’t there so it may just have been me being grumpy and it certainly didn’t spoil the book.
So, the book is brilliant – go read it. What about the film? Well… it’s really good, but the book beats it hands down, as most great books do even when the film is brilliant. There’s so much more you can cover in a book than in a film, so much more depth you can go into about the science, that it will always win hands down. Don’t get me wrong – the film is great… just read the book first. And I’ll bet you read the book after too!
That said, there were one or two moments in the film that grated a little and definitely moved away from the realism. Astronauts leaping from one part of a ship to another, with no tether, and desperately grabbing at the surface to avoid being bounced off into space forever? And not because they are stranded out there, just because they need to get from one place to another quickly? No. Just… no. But those are minor grumps about a great film.
So, just in case I haven’t been clear, the book and the film are amazing, got read / see them… in that order.
If you enjoyed this review, check out all the others I’ve written over at Reviews Corner…