20 November 2015

The Martian - a Book Review AND a Movie Review

Today I am doing something different - a book review AND a movie review! I read the Martian in August, and I was immediately caught up in the story. I had heard of the book and purchased it months ago, but did not start reading it until after I visited the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City and saw the Space Shuttle Enterprise, which put me into a space mood. The movie released when I was on vacation, so I did not see it until mid-October. In September, I visited the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which is the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum's Annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia and is home to the Space Shuttle Discovery. Between the two museums, and the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, I was able to see rockets and spacesuits and more, which made me appreciate the research and care that went into the book and the movie. On a side note, I hope to make it to Kennedy Space Center before the end of the year to see Space Shuttle Atlantis, seeing three out of the four surviving shuttles in one year.

Book Review
Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Dates Read: 03 August to 10 August

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I am not a scientist, but the science was definitely believable. I loved all of the "Macguyvering" that Mark Watney had to do to stay alive. I do not know if I will ever see humans on Mars in my lifetime, but the book made me feel like it was possible. I loved Watney's sense of humour and I was rooting for him to make it home. I liked how the book started out as his personal log but became more complex as the novel went on, waving other voices into his narrative. It was easy to read and surprisingly easy to follow the science as well.

Movie Review
Rating: 4 Stars
Date: 17 October
After falling in love with the book, I tried to keep my expectations low for the movie, as I always seem to be disappointed at book-to-movie adaptations. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the movie. First, the book was so well researched that it was not hard to picture the space suit and the HAB and all of the other equipment and technology that Mark Watney possessed, so seeing it on the screen was almost exactly what I imagined. The special effects were not completely over the top, they were used very well to tell Watney's story. I liked being able to see a little more perspective from all of the other characters; however, I did feel like Watney's voice and his solitary experience did get overshadowed a bit. The movie followed the book fairly well, showcasing Watney's humour and his will to survive (and his love of ketchup, which I do not recall from the book). I think NASA's part was overstated and I would have liked to see more of Watney's problem solving - he did manager to survive a very long time without NASA's help. The only part of the movie I did not like was the very end. After I read the book, my mind went into overdrive imagining what happened after. I have never written fan faction before, but part of me wanted to write a hundred different stories for what happened next. I did not dislike the ending; it just was not one of my stories. In general, I am not a fan of epilogues in books (looking at you Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay), but at least the movie ending did not leave me questioning how an entire book (or series) could be amazing and then have such a lousy epilogue (one that makes you scream and throw the book across the room).

Final Thoughts
As a firm believer that you should always read the book first, I recommend that you read the book, even if just to get a better grasp of Watney's mental state and of his genius at surviving as long as he did on Mars. Then go see the movie to be impressed by the possibilities of space travel. And go eat a hearty plate of potatoes. With ketchup if you are so inclined.