I recently read The Martian by Andy Weir, something that has been on my radar for about a year now.
For being a New York’s time best seller, I wasn’t that terribly impressed with it.
The character itself was static in that he felt like the same person at the beginning of being stranded on Mars as he did at the end, over a year later. The author didn’t make as much use of the first person voice (through the conceit of logging how he was stranded, his day to day survival, etc)–and that surprised me because there was a lot one could do with that kind of voice in that kind of element–it was a missed opportunity to really pack an emotional punch for the reader.
I was reading part of the interview at the back, and Weir said that the character is very much like him, and he just put in what he’d say in such a situation and that, to me, explained everything about why the character sounded so weak.
There was no sense of exile, of hopelessness, of desperation–
and i felt that if the character was based on just what he’d say that would explain a lot. There was such a lack of imagination there that I was actually mildly mystified that the author would choose to go in such a direction.
I also felt alienated by the author and the narrator (both, since they are apparently one and the same) in that the narrator seemed to miss women only in the sense that they could provide him sex as women were always presented in this context. I just felt really uncomfortable and like I wasn’t supposed to be the target audience of this novel.
Reading The Martian didn’t challenge my own writing nor did it get my creative juices flowing. However, the mere fact that it’s a New York Time’s best seller doesn’t necessarily mean that quality will sell.
This does give me hope because of my weaknesses in editing. I am still struggling with editing my maritime story, and I am also afraid that it is boring and it is not as strong as it could be. I’m waiting to hear some feedback and maybe I will end up trying to re-write it so that it’s stronger or do some more strenuous edits, but at the end of the day I know that I’m just going to have to accept it as it is and realize that just because it’s weak, doesn’t mean it’s the end. It only means that we all have to start somewhere.