Synopsis: Astronaut-botanist Mark Watney lands on Mars with a team of space explorers, but he is left behind after an accident occurs. Everyone thinks he’s dead. But by a stroke of good luck, he has managed to stay alive. He considers himself as the first man to conquer Mars. But this title doesn’t change the fact that he will die soon if he doesn’t figure out a way to contact Earth. Despite his training, resourcefulness, and optimism, the odds are against him. How long will he survive? And will he leave Mars alive?
If you’ve seen the movie version of this book, you already know the answers. I’ve seen the movie, so why am I reading this book now and why do I recommend you do the same while we’re living under lockdown?
It all started when I was trying to cope with my new life as a stay-at-home mom (or SAHM) – I never knew this was a valid acronym until I joined the crowd. I was looking for a way to kill time while taking care of my baby who was mostly asleep during the day. Neil had this book in his Kindle library and I just decided (on a whim) to read it.
That began a fascination I couldn’t shake.
In these uncertain times, it’s easy to succumb to fear or worry than relentlessly focus on solutions. Mark Watney is the flawed hero I needed to hear from. He would curse the situation he was in. He’d be frustrated when something wouldn’t work as he would have liked. He would get depressed when a plan doesn’t pan out. But he’s always bouncing back and getting back to work.
I read Robinson’s Crusoe in high school and it made me sad. That’s why I don’t see why The Martian is being compared with it. The former is depressing while the latter is uplifting – a book that can make you cry, laugh, and think hard about your priorities.
When emotional frustration and isolation feel overwhelming, I recall Mark’s plight, humor, and his will to survive. I always end up smiling again. This tedium, boredom, or loneliness is nothing compared to what he’s been through. Yes, he’s not a real person, but he sure knows how not to give up during crisis and uncertain times.
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication date: 2011 (Originally self-published)
Republication date: 2014 (re-released by Crown Publishing)
Read on: Kindle
No. of Pages: 357
How are you dealing with lockdown anxiety? Share your thoughts in the comments below. P.S. Book recommendations are welcome, too.