Customer Review

473 of 506 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abandoned on Mars, October 23, 2012
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This review is from: The Martian (Kindle Edition)
A futuristic Robinson Crusoe! Due to a dust storm, Mark Watney is left for dead in the Acidalia region of Mars when the Ares 3 mission is aborted 6 days into the scheduled two months. What follows is largely a logbook of living in a large tent or a small rover for about 550 days on what was supposed to be two month's rations for 6 people. Fortunately there were some potatoes for thanksgiving that were alive, so Mark starts dividing them and growing them. But first he has to make soil, and then water, and so on. Generally speaking, a logbook is a poor technique, but here it is brilliant. You cannot have conversation, and you cannot develop other characters, but did I mention he was abandoned? Alone? You might still think that 550 days stuck in a tent or rover could get boring, but no, this book is absolutely gripping.

Watney was resourceful, and the book is very good at showing the scientific approach to problems, putting numbers to them, and showing what happens if you do what, so in a sense it is also a book of puzzles: this has gone wrong, how can it be fixed? Tension is maintained well because Watney has an unseen companion: Murphy. If it can go wrong, it does, sometimes because of Watney's own lack of knowledge. To make water, first he makes hydrogen. This is not a good idea, and Watney finds out why. Because I have also written a book centred on Mars, I know the author has really spent a lot of time understanding the nature of Mars, and this book shows quite well what being on the surface of Mars would be like. There is the odd error, probably intentional for effect, for example the effects of the dust storm are too great. Martian winds can hit up to 200 k/h, but gas pressures are about 1% of Earth's, so, after correcting for the lower gravitational acceleration and the mass of dust, the forces will still be only a few percent of those of comparable wind velocities on Earth. That, however, is forgiven, because if the author were strictly correct on this, then there would be no story.

To summarize, this is a surprisingly gripping story of survival against all the odds, and I strongly recommend it.

Ian Miller, author of Red Gold.
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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 44 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 6, 2012 7:38:31 AM PST
D. A. Hall says:
I bought your book because I liked your writing style in the review ... and have just started reading it. Looking good so far.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2012 1:23:09 PM PST
Thanks, Dave. I really hope you enjoy it. Ian

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 10:37:15 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2013 10:47:52 AM PST
I've started reading it -downloaded the sample and could not put it down, bought it asap! Please avoid giving spoilers in your comments; «550 days», «potatoes for thanksgiving that were alive», «To make water, first he makes hydrogen. This is not a good idea, and Watney finds out why». Even so, I'll read your book too, and probably put some spoilers to it in my comment. :)

By the way, I just read the first two pages and they were not as hooking as "The Martian" and neither was the price, so I'll finish reading the sample before giving the "One Click". ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2013 12:08:53 PM PST
I am sorry you thought they were spoilers, because I did not intend that. What I was trying to do was to show what sort of book it was, so that the potential purchaser would have a good idea of what to expect. As for writing spoilers on mine, that is certainly your right. :)

Posted on Jan 20, 2013 7:28:55 AM PST
Cut Co2 says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2013 1:02:50 PM PST
I am really sorry if this spoiled anything, but let me look at these so-called spoilers. First, he is stranded on Mars, alone, for 550 days. Stranded is necessary to show what the story is about. If you know anything about orbital dynamics at all, 550 days is a relatively short time. Is growing potatoes a spoiler? Even blind Freddy can see someone stranded for that period of time has to grow something or starve to death. That it is a sequence of puzzles to be solved indicates what sort of book it is, and if that spoils things for you, again I am sorry, but most people like to know what sort of book it is before purchasing. If my comment on making hydrogen spoiled something for you, then again I am sorry, but anyone who knows anything about hydrogen would recognize this is a bad idea. Anyway, it is a relatively short way into the book, and one small piece. There are a very large number of other things in the book that I did not mention. I suppose I also spoiled it by saying Watney did not lie down and die, but who would write such a very short book?

The real question you did not answer is, did you enjoy the book?

Posted on Jan 21, 2013 7:12:32 AM PST
Cut Co2 says:
You are wrong, my review did say that I did enjoy the book.

You also spoiled it by telling people that he lived in the Rover and picking apart the dust storm.

A book review should be more like "this is a good read" or "slow read", good character development, the author real draws you in, things like that. There is no point in giving away parts of the story to people, that is just not fair. It does not matter how far into the book any material is. Most people would like to enjoy the book from page 1.

Amazon has discussion boards for people that want to dissect and have a forum about a book.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2013 10:47:52 AM PST
I am a bit perplexed to hear that telling that he lived under cover spoils the book. What was he going to do? I guess it depends on what you want from a review. For me, I am not interested in hearing that "I liked it" and "the author draws you in" because there are so many sock-puppet reviews out there that say just that, in ever increasingly gushing terms. All that usually says is "The author has some friends". I can assure you that if you have as an author, ethics, and refuse to go in for that, you do not get reviews, and selling becomes slow. If you do not believe that, check the number of reviews I have. If I am going to review, I want to prove that I have read the book, and saying you like it does not do that.

However, I am genuinely glad you enjoyed the book. I can't have spoiled it too much. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013 8:29:18 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2013 8:34:02 AM PST
D. A. Hall says:
I really like the detailed manner in which you review books, and The Martian in particular. Your reviewer ranking should be higher!

Update to my comment above ... I haven't read much past the beginning of Red Gold, yet ... but it is in my reading queue. In this world of hundreds of authors and only so much time, it's The Sample that's key .. if I get hooked during the reading of the free sample, then I buy immediately and carry on reading till the end .. "The Martian" has that hook factor in spades.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013 11:27:11 AM PST
Thanks for the comment on reviewing. I do try to be helpful.

Your comment on Red Gold is interesting in terms of the need to get off to an early "hook". Currently I am reading "Dominion" (C. J. Sanson), which I gather is selling very well, and when I review it (in another week or so) you will see that I have to come to terms with someone else's "slow start".
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