When we decided to write In the Shadow of Ares, we intentionally set it on a developed Mars. For my part, I thought the story of a few astronauts and a dead planet had been done to death, with predictably mediocre results.
I’ve never been so wrong. This book is fantastic.
Mark Watney is stranded on Mars when the rest of the Ares III crew have to evacuate for Earth shortly into their mission. He is thought to be dead, and with no functioning communications and almost no food, his prospects are bleak. What he does have, though, is a mountain of ingenuity and a great sense of humor that give him a fighting chance.
The Martian is highly technical, but so funny and suspenseful that it should be accessible to nearly anyone (the language is genuine—and salty—so it’s not for all). Despite the bulk of the story consisting of the narration of the protagonist, the voice of that character is more than strong enough to carry the story along, and it doesn’t hurt that the pacing and suspense are outstanding. I did have a few technical and editorial criticisms, but they are too insignificant to describe in detail here.
This is one of the most creative and enjoyable books I have ever read, and I recommend it highly.