Sunday, November 29, 2015

Staff Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

I am late to the party. Almost everyone I know has either already read The Martian by Andy Weir or seen the movie. Aisha even wrote a post about the movie's (then) upcoming release on this blog. In a way, this is awesome. It's a very lonely feeling to read an awesome book and then have no one to talk about it with because (seemingly) no one else has read it yet. It's much more fun when everyone responds to "I really like this book I'm reading" with "OH YEAH THAT BOOK IS GREAT!"

Mostly though, I'm kicking myself. Two years ago I had access to an ARC (advance reader copy) of The Martian, but I never made it past the first page. I'd just read The Last Policeman and didn't feel up to reading another book where everything is balanced on the edge of disaster. Over the next two years as more and more people mentioned how much they loved The Martian, I became more and more convinced that this wasn't a book I wanted to read. I'm sure we've all had those moments where we tried something popular and thought, "What's the big deal?"

Avoiding something because it's popular is a guaranteed method to miss out on awesome things. However, I suspect that if I'd picked up the print edition, I would've been overwhelmed and disappointed. Happily, I listened to the audiobook narrated by R.C. Bray and that made all the difference. Bray is a perfect match for Mark Watney, the novel's main character and primary narrator. Bray's delivery captured Watney's wry, yet juvenile, humor and incredible optimism, as well as the personalities of the other characters. Bray somehow made even the most technically detailed descriptions of, say, canvas fabrication incredibly engaging. Seriously, there was a chapter that went into great detail on the design, manufacture, testing, and deployment of some fancy space canvas that had me on the edge of my seat.

I tore through the entire 11-hour audiobook over the course of four days. This is saying something because I had to give myself a break for a day after a particularly tense section (see above) and read a comic book. I haven't seen the movie yet, so I don't have an opinion on how they match up. I'm just not ready to live through that tension again, but I'll probably check it out once it's available on DVD. First though, I'll be checking out Packing for Mars by Mary Roach.

If you haven't read The Martian yet, it's not too late!* On Tuesday, January 12th we'll be discussing The Martian by Andy Weir at our first book club meeting of 2016. We hope to see you there!

~Sarah, Adult Services

*It's never too late to read a good book!

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