Author: Andy Weir
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Summary: The plot at the heart of the story was great, but the book was too long and neither the humor nor the science was as well-executed as in The Martian.
The latest from Andy Weir has a premise very much like his much-beloved blockbuster, The Martian. Ryland Grace is stranded in space, the sole survivor of his crew. Unfortunately, he’s just woken up from a coma like that which killed his crewmates and he doesn’t even remember that he is in space. As his memory slowly returns, he realizes that his mission is truly critical. Humanity’s ability to survive an extinction level event depends on his ability to complete his mission. Now, if he can only remember his own name…
I have mixed feelings about this one. I read it with my husband and we’re more willing to quit books we read together than I am alone. We had fun reading this story. I don’t think we ever seriously considered giving up on it. The plot was gripping and I couldn’t wait to find out how it played out, although the pacing was somewhat uneven. A delightful and surprising secondary character also brought a lot of life to this book.
For all that this was a fun book and we enjoyed it, I’m not sure I can say it was a good book. It felt like the author had written fan fiction poorly mimicking his own earlier work. The flashbacks didn’t add much to the story. The main character’s personal development felt unearned, tacked on to the rest of the story because people expect a character arc like that. The main character was funny, but not as funny as the protagonist of The Martian. His personal tick of subbing in other words for curse words made him feel blander to me.
The science details that were included also weren’t as interesting as those included in the first book. As someone who likes science, I don’t find reading about someone doing a basic experiment to determine gravity to be scintillating reading. I’m not someone who fact checks little details in a book, so I often felt numbers were given were they weren’t needed. On several occasions, the main character unnecessarily explained why he didn’t take an alternate approach. This felt like the author trying to head off criticism from more nit-picky readers.
There were a lot of good parts to this book to though. I liked the fast-paced bits where the main character took on dangerous challenges with creative solutions. I also loved his relationship with this secondary character and how that developed. Unfortunately, I felt like there was a fantastic 300 page book here, buried in 200 pages of boring backstory and unnecessarily detailed, dull science experiments.