Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Weir combines the heart-stopping with the humorous in this brilliant debut novel about an astronaut stranded on Mars. When its mission is scrubbed as a result of a powerful windstorm, the team of Ares 3 move from their habitat to the ascent vehicle. In transit, Mark Watney's spacesuit is punctured by debris, knocking him unconscious and disabling the suit's biosign monitor so that he appears to be dead. When he regains consciousness, Mark realizes that his crew has left him: "I'm pretty much fucked." Now all he has to do is survive, reestablish communications, find a source of food, and last until the next mission to Mars. Like TV's MacGyver, Mark does have a few potatoes, lots of duct tape, and plenty of resourcefulness. If only Mars would stop trying to kill him and the crew had left behind something other than disco music and 1970s sitcoms for entertainment. VERDICT By placing a nail-biting life-and-death situation on Mars and adding a snarky and wise-cracking nerdy hero, Weir has created the perfect mix of action and space adventure. Mark is hilarious, which makes the terror of marooned death on Mars not just bearable but downright fun. First self-published as an ebook, this revised and edited new edition has also been sold to producer Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class). [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/13; see Q&A with Weir, p. 78.-Ed.]-Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
A dust storm strands astronaut Mark Watney on Mars and forces his landing crew to abandon the mission and return to Earth in Weir's excellent first novel, an SF thriller. Watney, injured by flying debris and presumed dead, is alone on Mars with no communication and limited supplies. He is, however, the mission engineer, the fix-it guy, and with intelligence and grit he goes to work to stay alive. There are setbacks and triumphs galore as we follow Watney's sojourn on Mars via his journal entries. Meanwhile, a desperate NASA team concocts a rescue plan on Earth. Watney's solutions to food and life support problems are plausible, and Weir laces the technical details with enough keen wit to satisfy hard science fiction fan and general reader alike. Deftly avoiding the problem of the Robinson Crusoe tale that bogs down in repetitious behavior, Weir uses Watney's proactive nature and determination to survive to keep the story escalating to a riveting conclusion. Agent: David Fugate, LaunchBooks Literary Agency. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Remember Man Plus, Frederik Pohl's award-winning 1976 novel about a cyborg astronaut who's sent, alone, to Mars? Imagine, instead, that the astronaut was just a regular guy, part of a team sent to the red planet, and that, through a series of tragic events, he's left behind, stranded and facing certain death. That's the premise of this gripping and (given its subject matter) startlingly plausible novel. The story is told mostly through the log entries of astronaut Mark Watney, chronicling his efforts to survive: making the prefab habitat livable and finding a way to grow food, make water, and get himself off the planet. Interspersed among the log entries are sections told from the point of view of the NASA specialists, back on Earth, who discover that Watney is not dead (as everyone assumed) and scramble together a rescue plan. There are some inevitable similarities between the book and the 1964 movie Robinson Crusoe on Mars, but where the movie was a broad sci-fi adventure, the novel is a tightly constructed and completely believable story of a man's ingenuity and strength in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Riveting.--Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
When a freak dust storm brings a manned mission to Mars to an unexpected close, an astronaut who is left behind fights to stay alive. This is the first novel from software engineer Weir. One minute, astronaut Mark Watney was with his crew, struggling to make it out of a deadly Martian dust storm and back to the ship, currently in orbit over Mars. The next minute, he was gone, blown away, with an antenna sticking out of his side. The crew knew he'd lost pressure in his suit, and they'd seen his biosigns go flat. In grave danger themselves, they made an agonizing but logical decision: Figuring Mark was dead, they took off and headed back to Earth. As it happens, though, due to a bizarre chain of events, Mark is very much alive. He wakes up some time later to find himself stranded on Mars with a limited supply of food and no way to communicate with Earth or his fellow astronauts. Luckily, Mark is a botanist as well as an astronaut. So, armed with a few potatoes, he becomes Mars' first ever farmer. From there, Mark must overcome a series of increasingly tricky mental, physical and technical challenges just to stay alive, until finally, he realizes there is just a glimmer of hope that he may actually be rescued. Weir displays a virtuosic ability to write about highly technical situations without leaving readers far behind. The result is a story that is as plausible as it is compelling. The author imbues Mark with a sharp sense of humor, which cuts the tension, sometimes a little too much--some readers may be laughing when they should be on the edges of their seats. As for Mark's verbal style, the modern dialogue at times undermines the futuristic setting. In fact, people in the book seem not only to talk the way we do now, they also use the same technology (cellphones, computers with keyboards). This makes the story feel like it's set in an alternate present, where the only difference is that humans are sending manned flights to Mars. Still, the author's ingenuity in finding new scrapes to put Mark in, not to mention the ingenuity in finding ways out of said scrapes, is impressive. Sharp, funny and thrilling, with just the right amount of geekery.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.