The Martian // It Might Make a Better Film

02 October 2015

The Martian – Andy Weir
Release Date: 28th August 2015
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, Thriller
My Rating:
The bestseller behind the major film from Ridley Scott, starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain.

I’m stranded on Mars.

I have no way to communicate with Earth.

I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m screwed.
The Martian is completely different (and I mean that quite literally) to anything I’ve read before. It is a sci-fi novel about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars

I don’t say this often, but I think this book may actually make a better film. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book, because it was amazing, I couldn’t put it down, but it might have been easier to understand the technical side of this book and the intricacies of Watney’s attempts to stay alive if I could have seen it rather than trying to figure out the writing.

I talk about Mark Watney and why I am a little bit in love with his character.

The story in The Martian is gripping (I did not want to put this book down once I’d started) and I think the reason that this book is as good as it is is the fact the main character Mark Watney, is such a great character. He’s funny and relatable and his sense of humour was perfect for me, a little dark (he is stranded on Mars, you get where he’s coming from) but he attempts to stay positive because otherwise he would just take his helmet off and suffocate himself. If Watney hadn’t been so interesting I don’t think this book would have been as good. It’s a good thing that the voice of Mark Watney is so strong and relatable, but also that later in the book you get to read from other perspectives.

Now, I know a lot of things can go wrong transferring books to the big screen and one of those things is changes in the character as you lose their internal voice and are left learning them solely on their actions. I mean, a prime example of a character changing from book to screen is Harry Potter (he was so funny in the book and movie Harry just wasn’t the same!) and I wouldn’t want the same to happen with Watney. The thing is, I’m not too worries with this one because I’ve seen the trailer and that’s what made me want to pick the book up in the first place, Matt Damon sounds like he has the voice of the character down. I probably couldn’t have made such a bold claim of wanting to see this book as a film if I hadn’t already seen the trailer, but I don’t care.

I actually get around to explaining my bold claim of wanting to see this as a film.

I haven’t actually explained why I would prefer this as a film beyond saying the trailer is what motivated me to read the book. The things is this is a sci-fi book set in space, as such there are going to be a few sciencey type things happening, especially as our character is an astronaut, he has to be a pretty smart guy to survive alone in Mars, after all. I get that, but God damn did this book get technical. I mean, I had flashbacks to my science GCSEs and my Biology A-Level reading this, at times. The fact the book gets so technical made it feel genuine, especially as Watney’s narration is set up as a Captain’s Log type thing, so they are written more for NASA to keep track of the goings on for the mission upon return to Earth, but even so, I felt like I needed to get a science and engineering degree at times. It led me to skimming some of the paragraphs to avoid getting bogged down in the scientific language. It definitely tempered my enjoyment of the book, at times.

Thankfully the story itself is amazing, so that pulled it back from being too technical and boring. I mean, I’ve read books that get too technical at times (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo anyone? That first chapter was killer) but this book was to scientific for my liking I think. If you ignore all that, though, and you have a good book. I definitely think seeing things on screen would help clarify some things, like all the engineering he does in space, because I am a visual learner in a lot of ways.

Final Thoughts

This is an extremely technical book saved by strong characters and a gripping story. Sci-fi’s are not really my thing in books, I much prefer my sci-fi’s on TV and in film form for the very reason I think this book will make a great film, when it gets technical you’re seeing what’s happening rather than trying to understand the language. If you, like me, prefer to read the book before watching a film, though, you will not be disappointed. The story is interesting, it is not as fast-paced as you might expect, but it certainly doesn’t get boring either. I think the best reason to read this, beyond the story, is the character of Watney, he is funny and inspiring and ridiculously positive in such a hopeless situation, you will be cheering him along the entire way because you want him to get home, such a likable character deserves to succeed in the face of the impossible.

Anyone read The Martian, please tell me your thoughts below and if you’ve seen the film that I need to know if I should watch it.

Have you ever had the shocking realisation you might prefer a book as a film?
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