Lazy Saturday Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

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Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Series: N/A
Edition: Kindle Edition, 385 pages
Publication Details: February 11th 2014 by Crown
Genre(s): Sci-Fi
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it

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Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive–and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills–and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit–he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Review

The Martian is like the most intense science lesson you never had.

Mark Watney is stranded on Mars, presumed dead. As the first line perfectly describes he’s ‘pretty much fucked’. But Mark Watney is also the most ridiculously resourceful astronaut there ever was, and he’s not about to give up.

He spends his days planning and problem solving in order to figure out how to keep himself alive until he can be rescued, whilst reluctantly listening to disco music and watching old 70’s sitcoms left behind by his crew-mates.

The story is told in the form of daily logs from Watney, in his smart-ass, witty voice, and also from the perspective of the NASA team who are trying to save him now that they’re aware he’s alive.

I was totally engrossed in this story, and rooting for Watney the whole way through. The book mixes hard science (something I know very little about) with fantastically real science-fiction which makes for an intense read. At times I did get a bit bored of all the minuscule details of Watney’s potato farm and water reclaimer, but all the little details added to the real-ness of the story.

I was surprised by how funny this book was too, which was all down to the characterisation of Watney. He was hilarious, and NASA’s reactions to him just made me laugh even more. If anyone could survive alone in space, it would be someone like Mark Watney.

I thought this was a really clever book. It had its ups and downs, but overall I found it interesting, exciting and hard to put down.

unicorn rating 4

Frighteningly Festive: Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen

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Title: Dying For Christmas
Author: Tammy Cohen
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 274 pages
Publication Details: November 20th 2014 by Transworld Digital
Genre(s): Thriller, Crime
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads
Purchase.

I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there’ll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out …

…But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?

Review

This was my first read of Tammy Cohen, who has also published books under her full name Tamar Cohen. The name stood out to me and I only realised after finishing the book that she teaches at the local university here. How weird is that?

Anyway, Dying For Christmas is a psychological thriller/Crime drama with more twists and turns than Alton Towers. And to carry on the theme park analogy, my enjoyment of it rollercoastered a lot too.

The story is told in two halves, the first detailing Jessica Gold’s kidnapping and captivity, and the second following the case after her release.

This is one of those books that is difficult to discuss without giving away spoilers and ruining the enjoyment for others, so forgive me for not going into detail here. What I can say though, is that Dying for Christmas was a quick, enjoyable read but not without its flaws.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the constant switching of perspective from Jessica and Kim, the detective leading the investigation into Jessica’s disappearance. I found myself skipping the parts about Kim and the strain her job is putting on her home life – I didn’t warm to her for some reason, and didn’t really care what was happening outside of the investigation.

I also didn’t like how cynical Kim was about the disappearance. All of the evidence suggests that the kidnapper is psychotic, but all of a sudden Kim seems to have doubts after obsessing over finding her. It didn’t ring true to me.

All of that aside, this book was full of twists and turns which makes a great read, even if I did feel a little cheated in a way. I never knew what to expect and the surprises kept on coming right through to the end. Dying for Christmas is not your average festive read, but certainly an interesting and clever one.

unicorn rating 3

Dying for Christmas is available in paperback now from Waterstones. Click here for details of 30% off!