Six days into a mission on Mars, Mark Watney is left behind by his crew during an emergency evacuation. He is left with the Hab, in which to live, an assortment of research vehicles and materials, enough food for 6 people to live on the surface of Mars for another 50 days, and absolutely no way to communicate to Earth that he is still alive. Mark was part of Ares 3; Ares 4 will be coming to Mars in about four years.
Thus begins on seriously bad ass botanist's struggle for survival on an alien wasteland. The Martian is mostly told from the first person perspective of Mark, in his personal logs while he attempts to survive for as long as humanly possible. What I didn't realize from the descriptions of this book before reading it, is that it is fucking hilarious. After many many days alone on Mars, Mark starts to get punchy. His sense of humor is dry and sort of not-funny funny, which is perfectly on point for my sense of humor. I was literally laughing out loud as I read, and I don't do that when I'm reading Terry Pratchett.
Here's a taste of the ridiculousness that comes in between the science, which this novel is chock full of.
"LOG ENRTY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They're mammals! Makes no sense."
Speaking of, this book is definitely full of science. I had to go back and re-read passages numerous times to really understand certain things that Mark was doing to a) fix equipment b) create water/oxygen c) make his vehicles go further and faster and with enough power to go for days. Surprisingly, this was not a detriment. Far on the other side, in fact, it called to mind classic science fiction pulled from my father's shelves when I was too young to really understand the science, that once I opened, I could never put back down. It brought back Asimov and Anthony - even though their science was ... less scientific by the time I read them, it still brought back that feeling of science being totally epic.
AND MARK'S ONLY A BOTANIST!
Seriously, Andy Weir - thank you so much for writing this book. I laughed out loud, I sat on the edge of my seat, I cheered for the characters. I burned dinner the night I finished it because I could not put it down long enough to take the shit out of the oven. Okay, I didn't burn dinner, but I would have, if the boyfriend hadn't taken it out of the oven because I sure as hell wasn't doing it.
So why are you all still reading this? GO READ THE MARTIAN.
PS. I'm super excited for the movie, but I don't know how I feel about Matt Damon playing Mark.