Posts Tagged ‘The Martian’

2014 is coming to an end and, as cheesy as it is, I thought I’d post a little about the best books I’ve read this year. It’s taken a fair amount of beard scratching and some serious moustache twiddling but I feel a general top five is probably the fairest way to go as I’ve read some really, truly brilliant novels since I started this blog.

Though my reading has trailed off this month, due in no small part to my son celebrating his first birthday and subsequently forgoing any kind of routine day time naps, my last read Europe in Autumn is an excellent novel. Subtle, engaging and with an intricacy and depth that is quite astounding at times, Dave Hutchinson is definitely a name to look out for in my opinion.

Along with a lot of other blogs, awards and readers, I also have to admit that The Martian by Andy Weir is an unbelievably awesome book. There’s humour, humanity and hardship all packed into a novel that somehow makes potato maths interesting, nay, intriguing. This book had me gripped from the first to the last page and it was such a great read with such a fulfilling end that it’s hard not to recommend it to everyone, everywhere.

My top fantasy reads this year resulted in a dead draw between Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country and Mark Lawrence’s trilogy beginning with The Prince of Thorns. Both authors are clearly some of the best writers in this new golden age of fantasy that we are all lucky enough to be enjoying. Red Country is, in my humble opinion, Abercrombie’s best to date. A rollicking Western-esque tale of revenge full of grit and characterised by a protagonist full of piss and vinegar. Mark Lawrence, a man of supernatural abilities and talent, has produced a trilogy so gripping it’s a must read if you like fantasy. His world building is fantastic, his characters are brilliant and the final revelations are just awesome. I think this work is one of the best new fantasy trilogies out there and I’m not ashamed to say it was an absolute pleasure to read.

Finally, in my top five I am going to mention Fiend by Peter Stenson. I read this during a zombie novel binge and though it isn’t your typical horror fare, it’s for that reason that the book is so excellent. Drug addled protagonists, insane zombie-esque shenanigans and a skin crawling, brain itching ability to convey addiction. Stenson’s book is crazy but it’s a real (excuse the pun) shot in the arm for the zombie genre.

I’ve also read a lot of fantastic short stories this year. It’s not something I’ve done much of in the past but I’m really glad I’ve discovered the medium. Two names that really stick out are Benjanun Sriduangkaew and Genevieve Valentine. Both produced stories that had a touch of the sublime about them but which also stuck in my mind long after I read them. I will also say that, for me, the best anthology of stories in 2014 was Two Hundred and Twenty One Stories From Baker Street. Every single piece of work was a fitting tribute to the Sherlock and Watson cannon and it was just great fun to see how each author reproduced those characters in such wildly different settings.

Starting this blog earlier this year has also been great for me. Not only have I had a place to collate my thoughts on all the books I read I’ve also got to interview a few very interesting authors and editors. I’m hoping to continue in the same spirit in which I began in 2015. Maybe I’ll get a chance to watch all the films I missed out on this year. Maybe I’ll finally get to watch The Walking Dead season 4 (no spoilers please!). But, definitely, I’ll keep on reading, reviewing and blogging about some new stuff, some old stuff and some e-stuff.

Have a great New Year and thanks for reading 🙂

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I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for a character as much as I did for Mark Watney. I’m sure I’ve never been so enthralled by the mathematics of potato yields and calorie benefits. And, I have rarely held my breathe for the last quarter of a book as I did with Andy Weir’s The Martian.

As part of a six man team mission to Mars, a freak accident sees Mark Watney presumed dead during a storm that forces his team to abandon the planet and escape into orbit. Watney is not dead (though things continue to conspire to kill him throughout) but he is now alone and stranded on Mars with no radio or communications. He does have the means to survive for quite some time, though not enough to await the arrival of the next mission team.

Watney goes through some remarkable feats, using his ingenuity and skills to “Heath Robinson” a number of solutions against seemingly insurmountable odds. Clearly, as an astronaut, he is a clever character but his sense of humour and ability to stay focused is wonderful. Just as clearly, the author Andy Weir is brilliant in his ability to make weird math and technical material as gripping as he does. Interspersed with chapters that focus on NASA trying to work a rescue, Watney’s log updates pack humour, humanity and the drive to survive into bite sized chunks.

Spending a year and a half stranded on a planet that is trying to kill him, Watney’s story is life affirming. It speaks of the best of human kind; the universal and political free nature of scientific endeavour. Weir’s writing is smart and clear, never losing the reader in amongst all the hard science. The story is a serious page turner and the protagonist is so likeable it’s ridiculous. The Martian is a thriller in every sense of the word; an intriguing, mind boggling, math driven, Mars bound tale of survival.

Review copy
Published by Del Rey