I’ve got to make a confession regarding this book: I read it because the movie interested me. I also read it prior to the movie because I am well-aware movies often gloss over (or change) aspects of the book.
For the record, there were some rather obvious changes to the movie. I’m not going to say what they were. Just that they exist (other than a condensed timeframe, of course).
The Martian largely reads like a diary. Purposely done since most of the book has the main character, Mark Watney, living and working alone. The entries are sometimes very long and other times extremely short. There is often humour involved as the snarky character of Mark Watney (which I personally love) shines through.
You get a sense of the loneliness he suffers, but only a sense. His entries are largely about what he has been doing; other than the snarky comments, he doesn’t spend much time examining his situation. That too, is intentional as he says (paraphrasing here) if he spent to much time thinking about it, he would give up.
There are also the scenes where we get a glimpse of what NASA is up to and the crew of the Hermes as well. Not jarring at all despite the change in tone and writing. These pieces give an interesting insight into how an organization like NASA might think, not to mention a crew stuck in deep space mourning a lost crew member.
I enjoyed this book. That may be because I am an armchair astronaut. It also may be because it was interesting and immersive. I enjoyed the characterizations and the plot. The setting was understandably bleak and largely unchanging. I suspect the real Mars is much the same as I know the author did his homework.
I would give this book 4 out of 5 or 9 out of 10 stars. An enjoyable read; one I can easily recommend.