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!