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Last Week’s MM:  Riots at Home

I recently read the book The Martian by Andy Weir.  And, like everything I say I read, I really mean that I had it read to me by audible.   Either way, great book!   

I will admit, there are places where it’s a bit too math-y.  And, in the audio version, there is one part where he’s reading a bunch of computer code, so that goes on for a minute.  But the narrator is great.  He brings so much life to the character that it’s worth it.

This book is an example of what great writing can be.  It took a moment to hook me, because it doesn’t follow the traditional archetypes that I’m used to.  I feel like it wasn’t broken into the traditional Act structure.  I mean, yes, it ended at the end, and I guess there was a climax there.  But there was so much tension throughout the entire book, it seemed like one more wrench.

And that’s what I’m talking about when I say great writing.  You want to hook your reader and hold them there.  The old school of thought was that sometimes, readers needed a break.  But in today’s instant world, you have to keep their attention constantly.  People don’t want breaks.  They’ve got stuff to do.  They’ll get bored.  They want a book that will grip them and beckon them to keep reading.

This one did it for me.  Every time I thought, ‘how could this get any worse for Mark Watney’ (the main character) it did.  It got worse.  Then worse again.  And even more.  There were lots of victories along the way.  But by the end, I was actually worried for this fictional man.  The writer made me connect to and care for this character in a way that I don’t think I ever have before.  And it was done all sneaky like.  I didn’t realized how much I cared until it truly seemed like an inescapable situation.

Mark Watney is a hilarious character, even though it’s a pretty serious situation.  He’s been left behind, stranded on Mars, with no way to communicate with anyone, and without nearly enough food to last.  But he doesn’t just lay down and die, he fights for his survival.

There’s some language in the book.  I think it adds to the character, but just warning you.

Sometimes I’ll read a book, and it’ll inspire all kinds of ideas in me.  Things that the writer could have, or should have, done.  I’ll go off with a half idea in mind, start writing it, then realize that it might be too close to the original story for my comfort, and abandon the story.

But not this one.  There was no inspiration here because this story was satisfying.  I can’t improve on it.  It was compelling, well executed, and complete.

Needless to say, I enjoyed this book a lot.  It’s a great example of sustained tension, and a really good read.