Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to…
Okay friends… here is the scoop. We’ve all been hearing RAVES about The Martian, particularly in audiobook format, for months, and to be honest, when people rave that much, I tend to get disappointed. So I waited and then cautiously started listening a couple weeks ago. What did I think? THE BOOK IS WORTHY OF THE HYPE!! I was immediately engrossed and emotionally invested in the tale of Mark Watney, an astronaut stranded on Mars. While he’s not the first person to step foot on Mars (he’s the 17th), he’s the first to survive by himself and live on the planet for more than a month.
I’m going to warn readers right up front that the story is uber-scientific. If you don’t like science speak, I strong urge you to see the movie instead (I haven’t seen it, but I hear it’s a pretty good one). I don’t know that I have ever recommended a movie over a book, but The Martian is really full of details. A large percentage of the book shares the intricate details of how Mark solves the problems presented, thus allowing him to survive. As a wanna be chemistry major turned engineer, I found the science utterly fascinating. I loved listening to how he figures everything out – even his failures are profoundly interesting.
But what makes The Martian so great is that Mark’s journey is gripping. I wasn’t this nervous reading a book since Jurassic Park, which is still one of my all time favorites. The story is so realistic and heart-poundingly engaging. And Mark is the perfect character to be stuck on Mars, in fact, NASA even mentions that a couple of times. Yet no matter how clever Mark is, it’s his humor that steals the show over and over (and beware, his language is definitely for mature readers). While Mark Watney is the star of the title, each of the characters are three-dimensional and relatable on some level. I highly urge you to avoid spoilers, leaving you desperate to know if Mark and the crew survive, because it’s anybody’s guess right up until he very end of the book.
One thing that is different about how The Martian plays out is that the author uses multiple perspectives and varying methods to share the story. The first several chapters are all told in Mark’s first person voice, written as his journal entries. Then in addition to the journal entries, the author provides third person POVs from different characters on Earth, an omniscient viewpoint of Mark’s crew members, email communications, and even the perspective of inanimate objects. While it was a bit unbalanced and a little unsettling for me at times, the mix works really well to convey a bigger picture and the entire story. The only time the storytelling bothered me was when the book jumped back in time for a while.
Now for the best part: the narration by R.C. Bray absolutely makes this story come to life. His voice embodies the passion, frustrations, and humor that defines Mark Watney. The tale felt so real that I found myself looking at NASA tweets for updates on Mark Watney. Seriously. Additionally, Mr. Bray gets high marks for his accented characters and infusing his performance with the perfect amount of emotion each scene.
Overall, The Martian in audiobook format is near perfection when it comes to storytelling and narration. I found myself smiling, crying, and on edge over and over again as I listened to Mark’s tale. I was so emotionally tied to Mark that every exciting moment brought tears to my eyes. I credit the author’s narrative of events back on Earth for bringing to life what it would feel like to be part of the entire process of trying to save Mark. It’s such an amazing tale, I plan to listen to it again very soon.
My Rating: A+
This is one of…