Monday, August 18, 2014
Audiobook Review: The Martian
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended, you gotta listen to it, you just gotta
Approx. 11 hours
Publisher: Podium Publishing
You know I have no shame. None whatsoever. And that's ok. Because my shamelessness landed me the audio-review copy of Andy Weir's The Martian and it was awesome. And yeah, I know what you're thinking. Lori.. you think, you're always so far behind with the bigger books. What gives? We already knew this was a hot one, we've read it already. It's old news.
Hey, I never claimed to read the books from the "Big 5" and their imprint arms first. Heck, I kind of go out of my way to not read them. You'll find me curling up on the couch with a small press book in my hands, or its digital equivalent, instead of one that's been read and reviewed by over 4600 other people (that's how many people have reviewed The Martian on Goodreads right now). I'm not knocking the bigger boys, by any means. It's just that my heart belongs to the underdogs of literature. And there's very little that will sway me away from them....
Unless. If I find out that a "Big 5-er" has an interesting looking book released in audio (see The Three, The Troop, and Authority as recent examples), well, that's a different story. I've got a pretty long work commute, and I don't know about you, but I get tired of listening to music after awhile. Audiobooks offer me a great opportunity to escape. They help distract me from the fact that I'm heading into work again (sigh) for another 14 hour shift (double sigh) and make that long drive disappear almost completely.
You should know, though, that I was totally going to let The Martian pass me by. I really had no interest in it at all until one of the TNBBC goodreads members nominated it for our August sci-fi group read. When it won, I figured, what the heck... lemme see if it's been released in audio. And that's when I discovered something really cool.
Did you know Andy Weir initially self-published The Martian? Yup. He did. He was giving it away for free on his website and selling it online for only a buck. Podium Publishing got their hands on it, recorded the audio, and then helped Andy get a publishing contract for the print copy. IN. YOUR. FACE. all you self-pub haters! I told you there's some golden nuggets in them there hills.
The Martian has been referred to "Castaway" on Mars, and I can't come up with a better comparison so we'll stick with that. Stranded on the red planet after a worse-than-anticipated dust storm forces his crew to evacuate the mission and leave him stranded (don't blame them, they thought he was dead), Mark has to face the facts - he is stuck on Mars, with only a few months of supplies and no way to communicate with Earth. He's fucked.
But the good humored astronaut doesn't let that get him down. He's a botanist and a mechanical engineer and he's got some tricks up his sleeve to at least EXTEND his life, even if it is for just a few more months.
Through daily audio-logs, Mark records his thoughts and survival progress for whoever ends up recovering them after he's long dead-and-gone. Heck, I'd do the same thing. If for no other reason than to feel like you're still connected to someone, somehow, somewhere, right?!
Turns out our pal Mark is quite the little MacGyver. Give him some martian soil, human feces, flammable gas, and a few fresh potatoes, and this dude can cultivate quite the little garden. Seriously. And he doesn't stop there. He's the coolest nerd to ever leave Earth and he's determined to get back there, at all costs. He was trained well before being dispatched into space. He's patient and extremely savvy. And typical of a book whose entire premise is set on building tension and dragging out the inevitable, every time Mark overcomes one obstacle, it seems Mars is prepared and ready to hit him with another.
But that good ole Mark, he just won't be stopped. Cool-headed and capable of thinking his way through just about any situation, Mark Watney's got my vote as the man I'd most like by my side when the world comes to a halting and apocalyptic end! I don't care that I can't understand half the science mumbo-jumbo that comes out of his mouth, the man knows his shit, and I'd trust him with my life a hundred times over.
Podium Publishing did a great job matching the narrator (RC Ray) with the Weir's writing. He nailed the balance between witty sarcasm and hopeful hopelessness... And don't listen to those reviewers who poo-poo the upbeat and charming personality of our fearless astronaut. The cheeky and refreshing humor was exactly what the book needed to keep it moving along and keep its readers engaged. I'm not sure any of us would have been able to handle a cranky, blubbering account of man's attempt to survive the unsurvivable.
And you've heard that a movie is in the works, right? I hear Matt Damon has signed on to play Mark... and I can't wait to see the book come to life on the big screen!