#IMWAYR – June 27, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

martian

The Martian

I really wanted to love this book. The film adaptation starring Matt Damon was fantastic and I love science fiction, so I came into the novel with high hopes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technobabble as much as the next person. Just look at my obsession with Michael Crichton novels. Being hit over the head with facts and figures doesn’t phase me, which is a good thing, because wow does this book ever delight in its technobabble.

What makes a highly technical yet highly enjoyable Michael Crichton novel like Sphere or Jurassic Park (don’t be fooled by the film adaptation – the original novel is not for those with a fear of coding languages) work is that the facts and figures are usually delivered by characters who serve a function beyond just being the deliverers of facts and figures. The characters in The Martian are barely characters at all – they don’t really display any discernible personalities, experience no growth or development, and just aren’t particularly interesting.

Our hero, Mark Watney, doesn’t really feel like a real person – he’s just so gosh-darn positive, experiencing only the briefest and most transient moments of negativity or doubt. The man experiences complete isolation for weeks and faces near-constant death – I don’t care how positive you are or how well you scored on your NASA psychological testing, that’s going to put at least a  bit of a damper on your spirits. Watney is just too perfect for me – always chipper, always positive, always cheeky, and always brilliant – too damn brilliant. Every “oh shit, I’m going to die!” moment is almost immediately followed by a “never mind, it’s all good” moment. There’s never really any reason to worry about Watney’s fate because we very quickly realize that no matter what challenges he faces, his super brilliance and super cheerfulness will quickly find a solution and save the day. The character serves as a vehicle for the author to display his in-depth knowledge of all things science and technology, which is interesting for a while, but eventually loses its lustre.

In conclusion, this was one of those rare instances in which I actually preferred the film adaptation over the source material (gasp!).

Don’t Push the Button

don't

I am experiencing a bit of a love-hate relationship with this book at the moment. I love it because it’s simple, silly and interactive, and works brilliantly as a read-aloud at school visits. I hate it because I read it aloud eight times in the past week, and I’ve since developed an unnatural hatred for Larry the naughty monster. The story is a lot of fun, though, and it provides a perfect opportunity to really ham things up as a reader, if you’re anything like me.

The Bus Ride

busride

Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats

hazeltine

Old MacDonald Had a Truck

truck

Check back in throughout the week for reviews of these picture books!

Hope everyone’s having a great Monday!

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20 thoughts on “#IMWAYR – June 27, 2016

  1. I recently saw The Martian and liked it, but don’t have a strong desire to read the book. I thought it was a very well done movie but I can see where some of those characters might be a little flat on the page- i don’t know. Sometimes a movie makes me WANT to read the book , but not in this case.

    Anyway have a good week!

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  2. It’s funny that you compare The Martian unfavorably with Crichton, because I get bored with the latter because of his flat, stock characters. I guess I just expect a lot from astronauts because I grew up in Houston, so I didn’t find him unbelievable. I did skim a lot of the math, though.

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  3. I read The Martian, specifically because my students said I “had” to. They seemed to love all the science in it, and I imagine the character was fine with them in this instance. I know what you mean, quite a bit of science without the emotion. The movie really didn’t show much either, but some. Thanks for all the other books, too, Jane.

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  4. I have The Martian on my Kindle but your review just moved it near the bottom of my list. It has seemed to me to be a book I should read rather than one I actually wanted to read. I know what you mean about love-hate relationships with read alouds. Since I have four classes at each grade level. I do a lot of repeat reading. Come see what I read last week. Happy reading!

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  5. I loved these reviews–even though you didn’t love the books. If I were still teaching, I would be begging to use these as mentor texts to show students how you can write something that is entertaining and specific even when you don’t like a book!

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  6. I loved The Martian movie, but my FAVORITE Martian book is the old classic, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury! It was written in 1950, and I still like to get it out every now and then. You’ve made me curious to try Don’t Push the Button, so I put it on my To Read list, too. Hope you have a great reading week!

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  7. I knew after reading the book The Martian, before seeing the movie, that it would a rare “the movie is better than the book” moment. The limitations of the video-diary format (and the weird additional POV all of a sudden) really irked me. But my favorite claim to fame is that much of the movie’s Mars scenes were shot in the Wadi Rum in Jordan, where I’ve also visited!

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  8. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook of The Martian while we were in the middle of renovations. I was painting and it took me out of the nasty world I was in. I find there are many books that come across very differently depending on if I read or listen to them. The Raven Boys series is a perfect example. I think they are way better as audiobooks. These picture books look like fun (and you just can do picture books in audio!)

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    • That’s so true, I can definitely see how The Martian would work really well as an audio book, the story’s format makes it pretty much ideal! You would probably also get a better feeling for the characters that way.

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  9. I just picked out another book by Bill Cotter which I enjoyed. I put Don’t Put the Button and Bus Ride on my list. I think I am in the minority on The Martian. I recognized it as a well-done movie. It just did not fully engage me for some reason.

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