So, this one was really good! As in, I didn’t want to put it down. Each time something new came up, I just wanted to keep reading. I flew through this one. I hate that the curse words were as prevalent as they were but I just skipped over them as best I could and enjoyed the story. They were definitely in there for “shock value”. This story line, though, was good! I am glad Wendy chose The Martian. Don’t forget to head over to Ladybug Daydreams to read what Wendy had to say about this one.
On to the questions. I don’t think there are any spoilers in here but I won’t promise anything. Sometimes the way I read something is not the way it comes across to someone else.
The questions can be found here. I just picked a few of them because Wendy found A LOT. So, I went through them after I had finished the book and chose a few that challenged me and made me think.
- How did The Martian challenge your expectations of what the novel would be? What did you find most surprising about it?
I went into this book with very little expectation since I didn’t choose it for myself. That was probably a very good thing. All I knew was it must be fairly popular since I had to request it from the library and there was a wait list.
Most surprising is the quality of the scientific information and explanation of the activities the main character goes through on the surface of Mars.
- What makes us root for a character to live in a survival story? In what ways do you identify with Mark? How does the author make us care about Mark?
I think a character having a will to live and the gumption to work hard at it is essential to the reader desiring a good outcome for a character in a survival story. I went through a period of time when I was little that being an astronaut and going to Mars was a huge desire I had. This helped me relate to Mark’s character a bit and to root for him. The author did a pretty good job of making the reader care about Mark by just giving him a lot of what my mom called “stick-to-it-tiveness.” He was determined and worked hard at his survival.
- Do you believe the crew did the right thing in abandoning the search for Mark? Was there an alternative choice?
The crew had to make a choice. There was every reason to believe Mark had perished. I do believe that, under the circumstance and with the knowledge the crew had, they made the right decision. There is always an alternative choice but it was not a good one. To have waited longer would have put all of them in serious danger.
- Do you find the science and technology behind Mark’s problem solving accessible? How did that information add to the realism of the story?
I think the science and technology that Mark used in the story was fascinating. Above my head by quite a bit but fascinating just the same. His problem solving was interesting and definitely added enjoyment to the story. Did it add realism? Not really for me. But the author did such a good job of writing the story that I was drawn in regardless of whether it was “real” or not.
- How is Mark’s sense of humor as much a survival skill as his knowledge of botany? Do you have a favorite funny line of his?
Yes, absolutely, the sense of humor is definitely a survival skill. If you don’t have that, every time there was a hiccup in the plan, you would be devastated and have a most difficult time starting over. Favorite line? I laughed pretty hard each time he was commenting on the shows and music that he was occupying some of his free time with. I got a big kick out of those.
- Did you believe the commitment of those on Earth to rescuing one astronaut? What convinced you most?
Yes and no. We have seen situations at other times in history where a lot is gone through to rescue one person. So, I can somewhat believe that it could be done. However, the frank part of my brain says “that’s ridiculous! Years and billions of dollars for a single life?!?” And then my human part kicks in again and I think “If it were me or my son or my husband, I would expect nothing less, so why is it so hard to comprehend this? Of course they would do whatever necessary to rescue this man.” As far as convincing me, I think just the continued discussion of the required steps and adjustments being made help it seem like a reasonable decision.
- To what extent do you think guilt played a part in the crew’s choice to go back to Mark? To what extent loyalty? How would you explain the difference?
At the time of the book’s opening, Mark had been a part of the crew for years. They had trained together, lived together, and worked side-by-side for years. This crew was now family. I don’t think that the crew chose to go back for Mark out of guilt. Rather, I think they went back out of love. There was a great respect and loyalty between all of the crew members, the kind you find only in those who care deeply about each other. They went back for Mark because he was one of them. The difference between guilt and loyalty is pretty obvious to me: guilt is something you feel badly about and don’t really want to claim while loyalty is clinging solidly to someone or something because of a strong emotional and physical tie to it.
This was a very fun, very interesting read. I find myself wondering how much of the science in the book is accurate. This would be a good science study for some high schooler, perhaps, who is interested in space and other planets. Well, maybe a jumping off point. Lots of science, lots of math, lots of interesting logical thinking and all of it shown in the context of survival. Pretty interesting. This is one I recommend if you can find it in your abilities to skip over the bad words in the beginning. It actually gets a lot better after a few chapters.
Next month, we will be reading Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts. This is a non-fiction selection filled with anecdotal stories and historical tidbits. I have, so far, found it full of surprise and an enjoyable read. I won’t promise a “can’t put it down” reaction but I have already learned a lot and I have enjoyed it. Give it a shot – it might surprise you. The questions for the discussion can be found here.
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