The Martian – the book and the movie

   

Who believes that the book is always better than the movie? I usually feel that way, but sometimes the film adaptation of a book removes the storytelling weaknesses, takes the good parts and makes an excellent story even better. That’s the case here with the movie version of The Martian.

I very much enjoyed the book version and the huge success of Andy Weir’s book is something all self-published authors can aspire to. The book was nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read. Here’s his success story:

Andy Weir, Image: Amazon.com

Andy Weir, a software engineer, has always enjoyed studying relativistic physics, orbital mechanics and manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel. He started writing it in 2009 and spent a great deal of time researching. It was originally self-published in 2011. He first offered it for free (in serial format) on his website. Weir’s chapters were popular and he developed an enthusiastic fan base. His readers urged him to offer it in Kindle format on Amazon. This 99¢ Kindle version was hugely popular and became an Amazon best-seller, selling 35,000 copies in three months. That got some publishers’ attentions. Weir sold the audiobook publishing rights to Podium Publishing in 2013 and soon after, Crown Publishing bought the print rights. Twentieth Century Fox bought the film rights the same year and the movie, starring Matt Damon, hit the theaters in 2015.

The story is about astronaut Mark Watney, who is stuck on Mars after being separated from his crewmates during a dangerous wind storm. The team thinks he’s dead and they reluctantly escape in their Mars Ascent Vehicle. How will he survive the huge challenge ahead of him, in a NASA habitat, with no communication and only a limited supply of food and water?

I liked both reading and watching how Watney improvises and uses his mighty brain to survive. He overcomes what to a normal person would be impossible challenges and becomes the hero we all want to see. Matt Damon does a great job in the role. His sense of humor and human side make him all the more likable. The movie is directed by Ridley Scott and also stars Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig and Jeff Daniels. Click here for IMDb’s listing of the full cast and crew.

I thought the book was very good, although it was a little heavy on the math and science. And that’s why I think the movie is even better, because the story rises to the top. It’s what we all want in this type of film: action and a feel-good finish. As with all action films, viewers need to let go of analyzing whether or not events could actually happen and just enjoy the story.

I recommend both the book and the movie to science fiction fans and all movie-goers who enjoy action stories about heroes and overcoming adversity. I also recommend reading the book first because I don’t think the story would be as enjoyable if you’ve already seen the movie.

Click here for Book Club Mom’s review of the book.


I watched The Martian as part of my library’s Summer Reading Challenge to watch a movie based on a book.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

11 thoughts on “The Martian – the book and the movie

  1. I really liked the movie but probably won’t read the book. It’s the type of story I like more on screen than on the page. But I love his success story. It’s wonderful to see an unknown author take off like that.

    1. Well, yes, I think I agree with you. In my original post I said I thought it would be a good movie. It definitely translated well. I also liked how his book became such a hit. Thanks for stopping by and reading, Carrie. Hope you’re having a good (thrilling) weekend! 😉

  2. Great, informative post, Barbara. I haven’t read the book, but I saw the movie and loved it. At this point per your suggestion, I’ll probably pass on the book. But what a success story for Andy Weir! Those are great to read and definitely encourage other new authors, as well. Enjoy your Sunday!

  3. I read the book and then saw the movie. It definitely was a novel outside my typical reading genre, but I like to read books like that every now and then and I am usually pleased with the reading experience. I really enjoyed this one and I found the film adaptation to be fairly faithful except for the “epilogue” in the final moments of the movie. I thought for the movie this worked well, but I like that the book didn’t include one since I typically do not prefer them in books.

    I enjoy reading your blog posts.

  4. Ah, see, the scientist in me loved the book (I was actually jealous of how well he was able to present the science without it being boring), and the story-teller in me loved the movie. I would be hard-pressed to pick which I liked better, although I think the humor comes through just slightly better in the movie than the book.

    1. I think what you say is true, Tammie. I’m not a science or math girl, but I definitely appreciate the smarts it took to survive on Mars and I would want a guy like that on my team. Thanks for stopping by!

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