by Erin K. | | 6 Comments | Tags:

Welcome to Week 2 of the Online Book Club discussion of The Martian by Andy Weir.

How did you like the first nine chapters? Were you sucked into the action immediately, or have you found this book hard to read? I felt both of those emotions as I read the first section. I was immediately sucked into Mark’s plight, but I struggled with some of the science-heavy sections.

Could you believe that Mark didn’t immediately give up? I think my will to survive isn’t very strong, so I wouldn’t even know how to begin to survive in that sort of circumstance. One of the most interesting things about the first section for me was that Mark was able to think of a way to grow food on Mars. There were so many ingenious things about his potato farming. I was amazed that he was able to create enough condensation to keep the potatoes moist, and how he was able to create enough bacteria to get the soils to mix together. Could you believe he was willing to set that fire to create the water?

In this section, NASA learns that Mark is still alive, but they don’t have a way to contact him. I can’t imagine how frustrating that would have been for NASA to see their astronaut and know they need to save him but not have a way to let him know. Can you imagine being Mark, stranded in space and feeling completely and utterly alone? Before reading this book, I thought space travel was terrifying, and Mark’s journey really reinforces that for me.

At the end of chapter nine, Mark comes back to his home base with a broken radio. Do you think this radio will allow him to make contact with NASA? If he is able to make contact with NASA, how will that affect his spirit?

What are your impressions of Mark after this first section? Do you think any of the other people on his mission could survive like he is, or is he at an advantage because he was the team botanist? Have you been surprised that Mark has been able to keep a relatively good attitude, even though he is in a pretty hopeless situation?

Before you go, check out this USA Today interview with Matt Damon, who played Mark in the movie. In the interview, he talks about how the movie crew grew potatoes, just like Mark did in the book. The interview also gives you a few more previews of the movie, in case you haven’t watched it yet.


Let me know your thoughts and feelings about the book so far by leaving a comment. And make sure you read chapters 10–18 before you join us next week.

Talk to you then!


6 Responses to “The Martian: Week 2”

  1. Carrol

    I am so into this book. I certainly didn’t expect to like it so much. I was hooked at the very beginning.

    I cannot believe Mark’s positive attitude throughout this section. I am so impressed with the way he is able to think through things. How can he stay so calm! I know that he has been trained to handle all kinds of situations, but can you really imagine being stranded on Mars!

    He is so smart. Coming up with a way to grow his potatoes is unbelievable. He looks at all that is available to him and then figures out a way to use everything. I am not sure everyone could be so resourceful.

    Thanks for the movie clips you have provided. They help me to get a better picture of what things look like.

    I am so anxious to get back to the book!

    • Erin K.

      Yay, Carrol! I am so glad that you are enjoying the book so much! I think it’s fun to try different genres of books here in the book club, but I am always nervous that I am going to find a genre that no one enjoys reading!

      I can’t believe Mark’s attitude, either. I would just be a mess and would probably have died on the second day. I can’t believe how he can make every situation work for him.

      Do you think you could eat as many potatoes as Mark has to? I really love potatoes, but I think that would be a bit much, even for me!

      I’m glad you enjoyed the movie clips, and I hope you’ll enjoy the rest of the book! Thanks for leaving a comment!

  2. Jane Engle

    Mark’s initial desperation expressed in the book’s opening paragraphs immediately made me want to read more. As I did, however, my lack of current familiarity with the metric system caused me to quickly skim through those parts. As a result I was left feeling unable to totally connect with what was taking place until further on.

    Being a trained astronaut, Mark would have been instructed, tested on and become thoroughly familiar with certain steps to take in the event of problems which he might encounter. By knowing to proceed in a professional manner, Mark would not let his own fear become the major factor under any circumstances with which he was faced. With his realization that he alone was responsible for doing whatever was necessary in order to stay alive, Mark’s priorities for each day become set in his mind and actions. Risk-taking became essential to survival.

    After days of doing things within a short distance from visible safety, he would have thought about other resources that were available to him and sought them out. Radio contact was a possibility no matter how slim, so he had to try to make it possible. By knowing NASA was aware he was alive, Mark’s spirits would have been lifted feeling a connection to others who could help him.

    • Erin K.

      I totally identify with you, Jane, about having to skim some science or metric heavy sections. It was kind of hard to jump around and only fully engage in certain sections.

      I know that fear management would be part of his training, but I still can’t believe how level-headed he was throughout the entire first section!

      I hope you are able to connect more to the next section! Thanks for commenting!

  3. Greg

    A few years ago I read Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. That book made me think that the attitude Mark had toward his situation was pretty believable.

    Hadfield wrote, in part, about how NASA and astronauts prepare for the possibility of mortality. In short, everyone’s extremely aware that death can happen and has happened and they prepare for it, both psychologically and in more mundane ways (as in, what do the families need to do afterward). I get the sense that there’s almost a bit of detachment, in that astronauts see their individual lives as part of a much larger effort and therefore if they do die, the sacrifice is worth it.

    The book might have made Mark a bit more glib than a real astronaut would be just for entertainment purposes, but it didn’t read false to me that he was able to get past what had happened and onto the task of survival. Remarkable, maybe (I don’t know if I’d react as effectively!), but “astronaut” isn’t a job that you can just get without being really smart and having a lot of training and the right temperament.

    • Erin K.

      Thanks for the book suggestion, Greg. That sounds really interesting. I am so glad that my job does not require me to act or think that way! I don’t have the personality to be an astronaut.

      Thanks for leaving a comment!

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