I saw this book recommended by Regan on YouTube (PersureProject) and didn’t really pay much attention to it, as I am not a huge fan of science fiction. I mean, I have read books in this genre and I quite enjoyed some of them, but I prefer watching the movies (like Star Wars and Star Trek) rather than reading it. Later I found out that there is a movie based on this book and it is coming to TIFF this year, so I, naturally, decided to read the book first. The wait time for the library copy was going to be insane (over 300 holds for about 30 copies), so I bought my own copy at Indigo.
I started reading it and immediately realized two things: a) I was enjoying it way more than I had expected, and b) it is going to be a terrific movie. The book was such an easy read, it was difficult to put it down! I read it in 2 or 3 days.
The main character Mark is one of the members of Ares 3, a Martian expedition, which gets aborted, and he is left behind, as his crew members believe him to be dead. Equipped with only his knowledge (he is an engineer and botanist) and whatever was left by the expedition, he is set to survive on Mars. His main goal is to find a way to let his crew or Earth know that he is still alive. Whether and how he could possibly be saved, considering the fact that the next mission is set to arrive in a couple of years, and the resources at hand were provided only for 30 days is the central point of the book. That and the whole fact that he is stranded on a very unfriendly planet.
This book is mostly narrated in the form of logs made by Mark (that is ,in the first point of view). There are also chapters showing what is happening with the rest of the crew and also the mission centre on Earth. I found Mark’s voice to be very believable and extremely funny. The book is filled with astronomy, physics and chemistry stuff which made me, as an absolutely not scientific type, a bit confused at times, as it was hard for me to visualize some of the things that Mark was talking about (like an oxygenator). I think it all will be way easier to comprehend on screen.
I watched the trailer, by the way, and it looks very grand and epic and very Hollywood style. The book is not like that. It is way more personal, way less glamorous, so I would really suggest that you read the book first. I also have a feeling that they will make the movie way more dramatic, than the book itself. There is drama, don’t get me wrong, but the way people deal with it, out of necessity and/or due to their character (like Mark), was way more lighthearted than one could think giving the circumstances.
The book is a celebration of human mind, resourcefulness and will to live. There is a very true to the point paragraph at the end of the book (which is actually used in the trailer, so, spoiler alert) that says that people are always willing to get together for a cause and help each other. I think it is very true and it is part of human nature. We just sometimes forget about it.
It is a funny and touching book and I highly recommend it to everyone.
Rating: 5/5 stars.