After seeing the movie was I was all hyped to read the novel, I thought that it would be great! I was wrong. Here follows why and yes there is going to be mentions about the movie throughout because I just can’t help be compare the two. They are joined in my mind and the movie is what got me reading this novel.
It was a perfect example of why the first person does not work for a whole novel. In places maybe but for a whole novel? Nope. The characters were cold and besides the many and long rants about how much of what and science stuff (more than there needed to be) there was little to entertain the eye around the story. Mark Watney did not make up for this lack. Without a face to show emotion or a third person narrative to show the reader the emotions there was nothing much to connect to. In truth, I was bored. It just ran along in a dull day to day entry log that was filled with stuff that had could have been said with half as many words and gotten to more interesting things faster. In a way this was a novella stretched to the length of a novel. For the worse I feel.
The other big issue was the lack of tension throughout the book. I knew that he was in danger, but I did not feel like he was. In fact not at any moment was I so involved in the story or the tension that I was worried about him making it through. Not during the sandstorm, not during the rescue, not even when the Hab blew up. Nothing. I started and ended the novel in a state of mostly disinterested boredom. Personally I think by going with the Iron Man ending in the movie they made the right choice and I am no one for unnecessary drama. But we do need some, to make the story interesting.
Besides the endless boredom that both I and Mark Watney felt, there were the jokes. Okay I got a kick out of those that made it into the movie, but that made them feel were alive! In the book… the only word I can think of is meh. They were trying too hard, they were standing up and calling to me about how funny they were, but I just didn’t find them at all funny or amusing or anything. Okay, I did look up the one about AquaMan but that was because I am on Stack Exchange and therefore have a problem. Otherwise they were just words on a page.
The other thing was that, there was little more in the book than in the movie. I read the books of movies to find out that little extra about the characters, story, events that were cut but in this case there really wasn’t much. It was nothing more in it that needed to be told. I didn’t feel that my understanding of the movie was added to in anyway.
In the end all I can say is that I can see why is was made into the movie it was. There within the pages of the book I could tell that there was a good movie. The story was written like a script, it needed a face, a voice a visual medium to truly come to life. I think the mistake was ever writing it as a book. It should have just been a movie. When I think of the movie and of how I sat and did not notice two hours go by and yet counted every page of the book… All I am left thinking is that the movie was better and to be honest unless you really really have the urge to read it just to see where the movie can from I would not bother reading this novel.
I might watch the movie again though.