Mark survived but he might not be alive for much longer. Without communication with Earth, he has no way to tell NASA he’s stranded on Mars. The next mission is years away and he knows he will starve to death before it reaches the planet. That is, if he doesn’t die from a thousand other disasters first.
Still, Mark isn’t giving up, he’s going out fighting. He has some ideas that might get him through the next few years. If it comes down to it, he has one final way out.
So, what would you do if you were stranded on an uninhabitable planet alone? I would probably curl up in a ball and wait for death. Not Mark. As soon as he realizes the situation he’s in, he makes plans to keep himself alive. He has the right attitude for someone in his position. He’s realistic but optimistic. Every mistake he makes could be fatal and he makes a lot of mistakes. The Martian becomes a battle between Mark and Mars. There were moments when I thought, “There is no way he’s going to get out of this one.” Somehow he keeps calm and finds a solution.
Some people aren’t going to like The Martian’s bloggy writing style. It’s told as a series of log entries and Mark is no D.H. Lawrence. We get his thoughts on the events of the day, which no matter how harrowing the situation, are almost always positive. He doesn’t have deep ponderings about the meaning of life, he’s just trying to get by. The Martian is also quite a technical book. When Mark would talk about how he used math and chemistry to get himself out of something, I admit my eyes glazed over, but it wouldn’t take long for me to be pulled back into the story.
Space exploration is dangerous and will continue to be dangerous. In The Martian, NASA didn’t foresee a single human being getting stranded on Mars. This was a supposed to be just another mission. In reality, we’re a long way from sending people to Mars, but it’s interesting to read about what might happen.
The Martian ends up being an adventure story with an unlikely yet likeable hero. Even though Mark is fictional, there are people like him in the world willing to sacrifice themselves to expand our knowledge of the universe. That’s pretty amazing.