The Martian Novel by Andy Weir (Spoilers)

The Martian by Andy Weir

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.


8 thoughts on “The Martian Novel by Andy Weir (Spoilers)

  1. …it sounds like you don’t understand that the book came first – several years before the movie was made. This is not a novelization of a film.

    I personally loved the book when I read it (prior to seeing the movie of course) and found the movie to be a good adaptation of the original source material.

    • I know that it was a book first. That is why I read it. I was looking for that more that you get from the original novels… but it just was not there and like I said it does better as a movie and that while I see what they saw in the story to adapt it. I think that in many ways he ought to have just sent it in as a script.

  2. I disagree with you on which was better, but then again, I listened to an audiobook version of the book (which may have helped add more character) first, then saw the movie. Oddly enough, I identified more with the character in the book, where we got his first-person perspective of events, than Matt Damon’s portrayal, where we were getting it from the outside. I will agree that the tension was a bit of an odd match, both because the story was almost entirely log entries, which meant they were after the fact, and that Mark was a bit of a stoic. Even when things got terrible, he fell back to his math to try to find a solution.

    shrug In the end, it’s different strokes for different folks, but I appreciate that you cared enough to try the book.

    • This is true… I knew that people would disagree… it was a very popular novel but I had to say what i thought about it. 🙂

      The audio book might have helped. The sound of a voice telling the story to you I think would be a lot different to the rather distant words on a page.

  3. “What did Robinson Crusoe do with Friday on Saturday night”?
    There’s a problem with “the lone man” story, is the guy has no one to interact with, and no one to bounce off.

    This is why Man Friday was introduced in the Robinson Crusoe story, and indeed, why Tanto was introduced for film adaptations of The Lone Ranger.

    They got over that by allowing Watney talk to his diary, but otherwise there was going to be no dramatic tension beyond “now get out of that”.

    While I enjoyed the book, I wouldn’t recommend it to my wife because I know she’d soon get bored with the recurring “it’s broken, I’ll die if I don’t fix it” plot line.

    Personally I think you’re doing the book a dis-service, I think that while it has issues, it’s better than the book you describe.

    I haven’t seen the movie (yet), I’m waiting for a night the wife is out and the kids are asleep 🙂

    • The movie plays much more traditionally than the book. If your wife is the type that would enjoy a dramatic film like Apollo 13, then she’d probably like The Martian as well. The science is less emphasized and you see much more out of the tertiary characters working to save Watney.

    • Truthfully I think that it would have been fine if the author had written it in a more third person narrative. The all first person contentious static perspective just tired after a while. The movie gave you more to look at and more to allow you to fall into the story.

      With the book I never felt like I was on mars with Mark.

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