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The Martian

by Andy Weir
385 pages, Science Fiction
Reviewed by Kristi

An engaging, humorous and entertaining survival story that swears constantly.

Plot

During a mission to Mars, a bad storm arises, forcing the crew to evacuate the planet. When one of them, Mark Watley, is struck by a flying antenna and his vitals readings stop broadcasting, the rest take off, stranding him on the red planet. Mark must now find a way to survive, growing his own food and making his resources last until the next Mars mission arrives in four years.

Morality

Mark mentions that he'll take a lethal dose of morphine rather than starve to death. Faced with a dangerous mission, an astronaut reveals to her father that if her crew can't acquire supplies, the others intend to take suicide pills and she has been selected to survive on the remaining supplies as well as by using their bodies.

Spiritual Content

When he needs to find something that will burn in an environment where nearly nothing is combustible, Mark uses the wooden cross his friend Martinez brought with him into space. Mark says that, "if there's a God, He won't mind, considering the situation I'm in." But of course it's the author who put him in that situation and chose what item would be flammable. Martinez is described as a devout Catholic. Another character is a Hindu, and prayer for Mark is mentioned. Mark says that in high school he played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons.

Violence

It's man against the environment in this story, and Mark gets bashed about a bit, but it's not an exceptionally violent story. He is pieced by an antenna and bleeds a great deal and has to pull the antenna out of his side painfully. He sustains other injuries throughout the story, and there is some additional mention of blood.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Mention is made of whiskey and beer.

Sexual Content

The story mentions getting laid (or not getting laid) a few times, though there are no graphic scenes. A wife laments the fact that her husband is away in space for so long and she has to wait for intercourse. Mention is made of a person coming home to an unfaithful spouse as part of an analogy. An unmarried couple share quarters and are clearly intimate. When Mark is told to watch his language because his exchanges with NASA are being broadcast to the world, he responds by posting an emoticon resembling a pair of breasts.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

This is where what should have been a great book becomes far less great. While I understand that being trapped on Mars is going to be stressful, I also believe an astronaut can be a gentleman, and the excess of language is appalling. f**k is used 57 times, d**n: 61 times, h*ll: 53 times, sh*t: 66 times, cr*p: 16 times, a**: 35 times, a*****e: 6 times.

Conclusion

Entertainment-wise, this is a delightful story of survival in a harsh environment, featuring an amusing, endearing protagonist that you're sure to root for. Mark is brave, clever and humorous and his crewmates and the people trying to bring him home are largely selfless and heroic. The research and science presented in Mark's solutions are interesting and generally believable, though after many chapters your eyes may start to glaze a bit as he goes on about molecules or the water reclaimer yet again. The biggest drawback to the story is an abundance of foul language that seems largely unnecessary.

Fun Score: 4
Values Score: 2
Written for Age: adult

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