This book was a roller coaster of emotions that kept me on my toes and made my heart pound nearly the whole time.
My roommate and I agree- this is an instant classic. Someday, it'll probably be taught in schools as such. It's science fiction, but it reads like more and less. If you haven't picked this up I really, really recommend it. Even if you're just reading it to see the movie, read it. Read it!
Now, most of you have heard about this book by now. It's been around for some time and it's got a major movie starring Matt Damon (who's absolutely perfect for the role). But, in case you were stuck on another planet and haven't heard of this book, here's a quick summary: Mark Watney is stuck on Mars and he has to survive who knows how long before someone can come and rescue him.
It's intense from the first page. You're never sure if Mark is going to make it. It's a dangerous situation and things can go wrong. And things do go wrong. But things go right as well. Mark is a brilliant scientist and an all-around great guy. His personality shines through at all points of the novel and he's got the best sense of humor. Even when he was in dire straights I was laughing at his quips. It helped lighten the novel and add hope to it. If a guy in the absolute worst possible scenario can act like this, that means hope isn't lost. And, actually, it's overall a really hopeful and positive novel- something I wasn't expecting at all.
Outside of Mark we also get to see what's happening on earth and what's happening with his crew. At first I thought these were weak parts in the writing, but they're just simple. Once things really get intense (about a quarter through; not that they weren't intense already) the simple writing is a bit of a relief. Weir didn't need to cover up his book with elegant prose to make the reader feel something because the story itself taps into very human emotions without it. As time passed I didn't even notice.
This was a surprisingly quick book to read. Not surprising now that I look back at it, but not knowing how fast-paced it would be, I thought it would be more dense. It's really just perfect.
Seriously, go pick this up, even if you're not a sci-fi fan. You'll enjoy this story, because everyone will enjoy this story.