I like stuff with romantic elements and angst, usually YA, fantasy, paranormal/urban fantasy or variations thereof. Usually wrinkles nose at sci-fi due to unlikely tech. Straight girl who likes boys that like boys!
Huh. I read a sci-fi and I liked it. I liked it a lot, actually. Who would have thunk it? Feeling mildly stunned here.
I read fantasy and paranormal, and variations on m/f & m/m romance, liberally sprinkled with YA. I'm a programmer, I have a science education, and for whatever reason my brain accepts magic, vampires and shape-shifters and their equivalents, but give it sci-fi? Nuh-uh. I can usually accept it in the movies, although it's not a sure thing. I admit I have not tried to read a lot of sci-fi, because once the space-and-future stuff is in book-form my analytic brain suddenly activates and picks apart the tech and mostly scoffs. It makes no sense, I know. Anyway.
I read the bookpushers' review of The Martian, and thought their premise for liking it so much seemed like something I could get behind, and I figured I might as well read the preview. Which turned into a read-it-in-a-day thing - it just sucked me in.
This is the story of Mark Watney and his refusal to die. Most of the book is made up of his journal entries, starting after he wakes up as the only living thing on Mars. Left for dead, the rest of his mission crew managed to get off the planet when a nasty sand-storm made immediate evacuation necessary. Each astronaut on the mission had two specialities (that makes sense), but of all the skill-sets he could have had, he's a botanist and a technical engineer. Hey, he can make food and repair shit! Useful. Not a major niggle, just.... very convenient.
It's Watney's humour, tenacity, honesty and grit that drive the story. His log entries are fun, and his determination, ingenuity and will to survive shines through loud and clear. So many funny moments that really should have been so dark. You get some POVs from Earth, but most of the book is Whatney vs. Mars and Mark Watney's big FUCK YOU RED PLANET. Things go to shit so many times, but somehow he (mostly) manages to roll with it.
The tech in this makes sense. It doesn't actually feel that far fetched. The book also reads like it could be happening right now (if we were in the habit of sending people to Mars). It is normal chemistry, physics, computers, botany and brains, and while it's been a while since I studied any of that (except computers, of course, and err... brains), it was at least plenty plausible enough for me. It is probable that if you hated science in school this will not be for you - though you should try, it is so worth it! While the nitty-gritty details are glossed over, Watney does give detail on what he's doing - there is talk about N2, H2, H2O, catalysts and other chemical words. Just sayin'. If you hate that, plus 3-letter abbreviations for... stuff, your eyes might gloss over. But seriously, he does such a great job of making it accessible, so give it a little whirl. It might surprise you.
The book could have been a little shorter, perhaps. And I would have loved to see some aftermath. But mostly it was awesome.
I'm still a little bit on Mars - 3 days after finishing the book. It was like reading a cool adventure film.