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.
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!).
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.
Check back in throughout the week for reviews of these picture books!
Hope everyone’s having a great Monday!