Adult, Books

The Martian by Andy Weir Book + Movie Review

This week I was finally able to see The Martian, albeit on my tiny computer screen and not on the big screen as so many have told me is ideal.  I don’t know how much different it would be because I missed my chance to see it when it was in theaters but I enjoyed it all the same.

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Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Crown
Page #: 369
Genre: Science Fiction

Alright for those of you who watched my 2015 wrap up you would know that this was one of my favorite books of the year.  I listened to it on audio and I’m going to talk a bit about why I think that experience helped me enjoy this book more than I might have if I had read it in a second, but I didn’t review it right away.  Part of that was because I knew that the film was coming out and I wanted to see that as well to talk about them both.  The other reason was that I read it during that time when I wasn’t writing any posts at all in the spring.  I was barely reading and I was having one of the worst anxiety years of my life.  So I put it off until now.  Now I can tell you all of my feelings on all of the things!

I think that the thing about this book that makes it stand out from every other science fiction book and space book to come out in a long time is that its story is uplifting.  This is a story of human ingenuity, human perseverance, human compassion.  This is a book where everything that can go wrong, goes wrong, and still you know in the back of your head that everything is alright.  This isn’t to say that there isn’t any stress involved.  Even though I knew that everything would turn out alright in the end I was still sitting on the edge of my seat, but rather than wondering whether or not he would survive, I was wondering how he was going to do it.  What bullshit solution would he come up with next.

Some people have complained about the amount of numbers and figures listed in this book, other people really love how realistic and well researched the science was.  For me I think that my enjoyment was facilitated by listening to the book as an audio book.  It was like listening to someone lecture me on science which I always enjoyed in school, rather than reading a science text book.  If you are worried about the science part of science fiction maybe try listening to the audio book rather than forcing yourself to read it because there are whole paragraphs where he walks through his logic and figures for everything.

Things that I took issue with, were few and far between.  The sudden shift of perspective was a bit weird for me.  You spend chapter upon chapters with just Mark and then suddenly you are thrown to earth to see what is going on there.  After a while I understood it and it made sense and as the book went on I got used to it but at first it kind of threw me off.  The experience I had while listening to this was far better than any of the little things that bothered me and that’s why I felt it was one of the best books I read last year.

The book is fun, and funny.  There is a bit of drama and stress, a bit of science, a bit of action adventure.  The best part is how uplifting it is.  I had missed science fiction that ended happily.  There is too much dystopian hanging around.  I understand that science fiction has taken on the role of pointing a mirror at our faces for our mistake but not every book needs to be a tale of the horrors we are going to face in the future.  So I felt this was a refreshing thing to read and I’m glad I decided to pick it up.

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Title: The Martian
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Drew Goddard, Andy Weir
Actors: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig
Time: 2hr 24min
Genre: Science Fiction, Drama
Rating: PG-13

Now for those of you who want to know whether the film is better than the book here are my thoughts.  I almost never think that movies tell stories better than the original medium.  There are a few things that I think the film does better than the book, but overall I still feel reading the book is worth it.  Even if you have already seen the movie, go ahead and read the book, there are more problems and perils throughout the book than made it into the film.

So, what did I think the film did better?  That pet peeve I had about the book suddenly changing perspective, the film didn’t have.  The entirety of the film consisted of switching perspectives between Mars, Earth, and the Hermes.  You get to see what is happening to every element as it came up.  I think that the book would have been perfect if it had followed this formula but again, I still think that it was better over all than the film.

What bothered me about the film?  Well I didn’t like Matt Damon as much I liked the person who read the book to me.  I fell like Damon was funny but not as funny as I remembered.  I feel like a lot of the charm wasn’t there.  I’m not sure exactly why because he did a good job and there were a lot of little moments where I felt he perfectly captured the character, I guess what I’m saying is that he didn’t do the Watney in my head justice, and that is always a big bill to serve but still.

Also I feel like the writers put their one Fuck in the wrong place.  In order to maintain a PG-13 rating they are only allowed to use the word Fuck once.  I feel like they threw it away at the beginning instead of waiting for the opportune moment where it would have the most comedic impact.  They tried to keep some throughout the film that were censored, but it doesn’t feel the same.  This made me sad because his potty mouth was one of the most endearing things about Watney.

I still really enjoyed the film.  I felt like it was beautiful.  I felt like it was able to translate the drama and the feeling of suspense/wonder that I had while reading the book.  I didn’t think it was as funny so the tone was a little different, but other than that I decent adaptation.

If you haven’t picked up the book for whatever reason, everyone and their mother has picked it up so you really are behind the times, please go do it.  If you haven’t seen the film I would also suggest renting it somehow and giving it a try.

Have you read it?  What did you think?  Did you think the film did the book justice?

I’ll be back on Sunday with Gretchen to give you guys a wrap up of what happened in the betwixt the book family this week and then next week we have all new content coming at you!

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5 thoughts on “The Martian by Andy Weir Book + Movie Review”

  1. Nice review! As much as I’ve abandoned myself to the joys of YA fiction, every so often an adult/literary book comes along and shines too brightly on my radar to ignore. The Martian is one of them. After your review (you had me at “uplifting”), I know I’ll definitely be reading it. You make an interesting point; when listening to an audio version of a book vs. reading it, skimming is not an option–I’d never thought about that before.

    1. I’m glad you are going to read it. It is definitely one of the more accessible science fiction books out there. I don’t often read science fiction (maybe one or two books a year) so it means a lot. You might not be able to skim with an audio book but you can turn the narration speed up to x2 and listen to chipmunk narration that gets you through things a lot faster … It just isn’t always a sustainable way to take in the story, unless you are able to focus on it perhaps because it requires more brain power to understand.

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