I’d really, REALLY love to tell you about a book that I read recently that I spent much time eviscerating in my mind. I’d like to work with that author’s agent and publisher, though. I don’t have the star power to speak my mind.
So, instead, I’ll review a book I loved and pick apart the reasons why I loved it.
The Martian by Andy Weir. I really, really liked this book. It’s about a modern-day astronaut stranded on Mars and how he survives day-to-day. Think Robinson Crusoe but with a much redder landscape.
Let me get a couple quick things out of the way: I like the engineering, the layman’s math, and thinking about space-travel in general. Mileage may vary, reader to reader.
I posted about how you can have conflict without assholes. This book proves it. There is constant tension as the main character meets and overcomes obstacles. The astronaut battles the elements, the folks on Earth battle physics, weather, and budget crises.
I LIKE EVERYONE IN THIS BOOK.
I’ve read plenty of books where I’ve thought, “These people could die on another planet alone and I’d be fine with it.” This book is not one of them.
Here’s how any OTHER author would add conflict for the sake of conflict: the astronaut would have a wife back on Earth.
We’d spend pages – even chapters – listening to the protagonist opining his lost love or constantly wondering “Will I ever again get to see my little girl/dog/stamp collection!?”
The writer would say, “What could possibly be more gripping than a romance ripped apart by the planets themselves?”
The answer: NOT having a whiny character.
Author Weir’s characters face conflict on every page. But while making people one can like. If something bad happens, it never feels like it’s because the writer said, “Well, I better insert some conflict.”
Read this book. It’s FUN, dammit.