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The Epitome of Social Distancing

Are you feeling isolated these days? Astronaut Mark Watney may give you a new perspective, because you can't get much more social distance than being alone on an entire planet. You may have seen the film adaptation of Andy Weir's The Martian. If you enjoyed the movie, you will absolutely adore the book. This was one of the rare cases in which I actually watched the movie first and picked up the book much later. Normally I'm a stickler for "book first, movie later!". Here's the thing: even though I knew what was going to happen, this novel had me riveted.

A freak storm on a mission to Mars leaves botanist/engineer/astronaut Mark Watney stranded on the red planet. His crew thinks he's dead, he has no way to communicate with NASA, and there's only so much food left. What follows is an edge-of-your-seat wilderness survival story, complete with mortal peril, incredible ingenuity, and lots of space.

Two things really surprised me about this book. I thought I would be put off by all of the "science stuff". Wrong. Even if I didn't understand every science-hack Watney was trying to pull off, it never felt forced. It actually made me more invested in the novel and Watney's survival. The other surprise was how funny this book was! I was not expecting so much humor in a novel about being stranded on Mars. Watney is a sarcastic, joke-loving character, and I was laughing out loud while reading. The humor makes the novel more engaging, though it never takes away from the severity of his situation. I also really enjoyed the scenes back on Earth and in other parts of space. It just goes to show how one man's story can affect many people.

This book made me laugh, cry, freak out, and root for a fictional character so hard it could have been a real person. I highly recommend this novel if you have an interest in space travel, wilderness survival stories, and smart characters. It's available for free through Overdrive, so you can check it out from home!

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