This Should Be How Science Is Taught In School! [A Review]

The Martian by Andy Weir

andy weir - the martian

   [Image courtesy of bookdepository.com]

I’ve not watched the movie, despite how my friends have raved about it, because I was holding out till after I had read the book. I didn’t want the movie to ruin my reaction to and experience with the book. The movie was, after all, based on the book, so the book comes first.

And now I can’t wait to watch the movie. (And I like Matt Damon.)

Yes, I’m totally wowed by the book. Of course, it helps that I had engineering training (but that was many many years ago… no, it actually feels like hundreds of ‘sols’ ago), because Weir spent a significant part of his book explaining the science needed for the protagonist’s survival. Yet, he was able to explain the science in such simple terms that I bet any kid will be able to understand it too. Plus, he was able to make the narration so entertaining and humorous (despite the dire predicaments that Mars always managed to throw the astronaut into) that I couldn’t put the book down. I often found myself laughing while reading the book on the train, before realizing I was probably freaking out the passengers around me.

The closing paragraphs were a little corny though, but that doesn’t stop me from loving the book, and I strongly encourage anyone who’s trying to get young people interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects to consider using books (and maybe movies) like The Martian to win them over. I mean, reading about how Mark Watney uses his knowledge in botany and mechanical engineering to survive one and a half years on Mars, sprinkled with generous helpings of humor, beats memorizing equations that don’t seem to have any practical applications right? And considering how savvy kids these days are, they can google the answers when they don’t understand anything in the story. Self-motivated discovery – wala! 

VERDICT: If you hate science and math, read this book – it will change your perspectives. If you like science and math, oh my god, go grab a copy NOW!

For those who want to know a little about the story line, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he s alive and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?”

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