Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction
Review: I've heard a lot of buzz around The Martian after it got released by the mainstream press in 2014, but didn't actually pick up and read the book until I saw this xkcd comic.
The premise of the story is pretty simple. Mark Watney is a part of 6-person astronaut team sent to collect research data on Mars. Due to circumstances, he gets left behind on the planet with no way to leave or communicate, but with enough life support and food to survive for some time. The book heavily focuses on the how-to of the survival mechanics.
Maybe it's the engineer in me, but I thought the book was great. It's hard to say there's that much happening in the book besides the description of how Mark manages to rig and debug various systems to make things happen, but those things kept my complete attention the entire time I was reading. The descriptions felt quite realistic (except maybe for a couple of small things) and Mark has a great voice and a sense of humor that allows the reader to be drawn into the book that doesn't really have any dialogue.
We also get a glimpse of what's happening meanwhile on Earth and it was kind of interesting that despite being set in near future (e.g. to make travel to Mars by men possible), there is absolutely nothing futuristic about the Earth portion of the story. In fact, I would say the Earth parts of the story were the weakest by far. It was somewhat difficult for me to swallow that Earth would spend hundreds of millions of dollars trying to save one man off of Mars.
All in all it's a thoroughly entertaining book and one I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys tinkering with things or space travel. There's also a movie version coming out later this year, so that might be fun too.