First off: It’s a self-published success story! Yeah, okay, it was picked up by a publisher, but still. Self-publishing is going to be big.
Second off: This book is awesome. Wikipedia has it about right – Robinson Crusoe meets Apollo 13. The main character, Mark Watney, is stranded on Mars, presumed dead, after a freak dust storm ends his crew’s mission early. I’m a little over halfway through. What’s really impressed me is that the novel switches perspectives, telling part of the story from Mark’s point of view, part from his former crew’s point of view, and part from the NASA team on Earth’s point of view.
The impressive thing about this is that all three points of view are interesting! I’ll tell you right now: That is REALLY hard to pull off. If you’re going to leave one point of view for another you better be damn confident that what’s going on in the new point of view is going to draw in reader interest QUICKLY, or else you risk losing them as they wait impatiently for you to get back to the interesting part of the story. Weir pulls it off. So far, I’ve never been bored.
I love Mark. His narrative voice is great. The book has a rich vein of humor running through it that gives the whole thing a really fun feel.
My favorite line, paraphrased but very close:
NASA Scientist: “Stranded and all alone, presumed dead, on Mars…I wonder what he’s thinking now?”
Switches to an entry in Mark’s journal log: How can Aquaman talk to whales? They’re mammals, not fish!
I probably laughed a little too much at that.
Anyway, read it. I got it as an e-book for three dollars on sale at Amazon. I’m not sure if it’s still on sale now, but if you have the money you won’t regret buying it.