The Martian, by Andy Weir – If entertainment value was all that mattered, I’d give this book the biggest star I could fit on this blog page. That’s because it is a remarkable book that had me hooked from page one. The story is so simple yet it hit something deep in my soul that made me care about this astronaut, to the point that I couldn’t sleep until I found out if he would make it or not. It’s man vs. nature, a familiar theme in movies, taken to a place where nature is a million times more powerful than the man. The plot in a nutshell? An astronaut is inadvertently left on Mars as his crew is forced to leave the planet and head back to earth. That’s chapter one. The rest of the book is how the astronaut stays alive armed only with his wits and some leftover equipment. NASA eventually realizes he’s there and they also set about the impossible task of keeping him alive. The astronaut, Mark Watney, is very resourceful and witty. He comes across in the book as an average guy who happens to be a brilliant engineer. Unfortunately, the book’s author decided to give his astronaut another trait that causes me to bring up one big warning about this otherwise wonderful book.
Fowl language flows freely from the mouth of our hero, Mark Watney. In my opinion it tarnishes his character and brings many a great scene into an unnecessary gutter. The problem doesn’t stop with Mark. Many of the scenes depicting the NASA staff are also full of vile language that uses every combination of cuss words imaginable, repeatedly. To me, the constant flow of fowl language in The Martian is very sad. The astronaut in this movie is exactly the kind of hero I would like to be able to recommend to my kids. He is smart, courageous, and sees life as something worth hanging onto. Two of my kids are avid readers. I would have loved to have handed this book to both of them, after I finished, and said, “You’ve gotta read this.” But I didn’t. Instead I chose to keep them from it. I realize most would call me old fashioned and even a prude. But, I know the power of a good book, and even more so the power of a good movie (The movie version of The Martian is coming out this October). I know that heroic characters that are portrayed as favorably as Mark Watney was in the book make us want to be like them. We adults should know better, but do our kids? I don’t want my 11 and 13 old girls talking like the characters in The Martian, so I won’t be handing them the book, or taking them to the movie unless it tones down the language. I’m fine with them choosing to read it when they turn 18, but younger teens are way too impressionable.
I guess you could say this is truly mixed review. I’m gushing over how good the book is, but I’m also giving a strong warning about the steady flow of raw language, that has no business being in this otherwise great book. My rating is a big fat SPLAR!