Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February 2016 #OABookClub: The Martian by Andy Weir

Hello and welcome to our second month of #OABookClub. Based on its insane popularity right now (and, really, how great of a book it is), we chose The Martian by Andy Weir. If you read it, we'd love for you to join in the discussion.


My favorite thing about The Martian was definitely the voice. Second, the drama created by us getting to see what was happening on Mars AND Earth. Third favorite was the fact that I didn't know what would happen to Mark until literally the second he was saved. I love not guessing the endings of books.

I can't put my finger on why exactly I loved Mark's voice, but he felt completely real to me as a character the entire time. The data entry logs worked for me, even though it is kind of like epistolary storytelling, which I usually hate. I guess it just didn't feel forced or contrived to me. It felt like the perfect way to tell Mark's side of the story. Even with all the science stuff. Look, I've got a MS, and I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, but man, the science was off-puttingly dense. It made perfect sense that it would be there, because that's how Mark would think, but I'll be honest: after the first 75 pages or so I just skimmed those sections. It was easy to do, and I recommend that way of reading it to everyone I recommend the book to.

Getting to see Earth's side of the story was also awesome, for me. It really upped the tension, knowing what NASA could see that Mark couldn't. I liked those characters, as well.

Finally, because Andy Weir did such a good job of running Mark through the wringer all throughout the book, I thought there was a very good chance he'd die while trying to be saved. I really wasn't convinced that he'd live until they pulled him onto the ship. And that's my favorite kind of ending--surprisingly happy.

4 out of 5 stars (I knocked one off for the technobabble, because really, it could have been summed up)

Find Kara on Twitter here.


As a survival story, The Martian is exciting and interesting, with the main character coming up with complex solutions to his life-and-death problems, all while making the rest of us feel impressed because we'd never have thought of them, or dared to attempt them.

His voice, however, took some getting used to, and even though I watched him go through quite a lot of trauma, I couldn't connect with him emotionally as a main character. In fact, at times the heavy detail reminded me of the thick exposition in Jules Verne or Dan Brown. So if that's your cup of tea, you'll appreciate this on a level I don't play at.

I might have enjoyed it better in serial format, the way Verne's similarly detail-rich adventures were published, although no format would have made me comfortable with the amount of profanity used by all the characters. Not my particular cup of tea.

Find Katrina on Twitter here.


When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an astronaut. Despite that I have bad eyesight and loathe exercise, a part of me still believes that maybe, just maybe, I could have been an astronaut, ya know, if I'd really applied myself. Or gone back to grad school. Or whatevs.

This book speaks to that little girl inside me.

I loved how accessible the voice was. The whole time, he was just all, "Hey, I'm a regular person, just like the rest of you, even if I have the most badass job on the planet in the solar system." And the journal format was great. I love unique storytelling like that.

The only thing I have a slight complaint about was the detailed math he included. At first, I started running through the numbers with him (in my head--I didn't whip out a calculator or anything) (OK, maybe I was telling myself I could run through the math if I wanted to), but after a while, it was slowing down the story. Especially as things heated up, it was distracting. I just wanted to get on with it. But still, it was interesting that the author proved that all this is possible. That's the appeal of the book, I think. Knowing it could be true, perhaps even today.

Overall, I loved it.

Find Samantha on Twitter here.


The Martian by Andy Weir was one of my favorite sci-fi books I read last year. Looking back, what really sticks with me is the vast amount of real science and math that went into solving the problems of fictional astronaut Mark Watney as he finds himself stranded and alone on the red planet. The xkcd comic below really sums up my thoughts on it perfectly --

​And yet, even if the science goes way over your head (I know a lot of the physics did for me), I think readers can also appreciate the story's sense of adventure and the narrator's humor (that goes a long way to lighten up what could have been a really hopeless situation). At its heart, it's a survival story where the unique elements of the environment vie against human hope and ingenuity.

Find Wendy on Twitter here.

So what did you think? Chat with us in the comments below!

March's Operation Awesome Book of the Month

For this month, we're heading from a few years in the future to a few decades in the past.

'I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall.'

Beautiful, clever, rich - and single - Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen's most flawless work.
Join us! We'll be posting comments on Monday, April 4, so come back then and let us know what you thought.

Tweet: I'm reading EMMA by Jane Austen in March for @OpAwesome6's #OABookClub. Join me?Click to Tweet: I'm reading EMMA by Jane Austen in March for @OpAwesome6's #OABookClub. Join me?

And finally, before you go...

#LesMisRead2016 Update from Samantha

I'm still on track with Les Miserables, so I'm quite pleased with myself. I struggled with the last classic I read, and now that I'm taking my time with this one, I'm pretty sure it's my need for speed that got in the way. 3.3 pages a day isn't bad, and even if I don't read all week, it doesn't take that long to get caught up on a weekend. Trying to get something read as soon as possible inherently makes it unenjoyable.

In terms of the story itself, it's interesting that just when I think the story is dragging, something dramatic happens. And Hugo contains so much emotion in one tiny sentence. Cosette's story has brought me to tears, but having a 1.5 year old means that happens a lot to me in life now. I didn't realize how many suffering children existed in literature and television until I had my own.

So, in summary, I'm quite enjoying the book. Onward I go!

Check out my other impressions on the Twitter hashtag #LesMisRead2016. And if you want to read it this year with me, there's plenty of time to catch up.

Tweet: I'm reading LES MISERABLES in 2016 with @Saboviec. Join me? #LesMisRead2016Click to Tweet: I'm reading LES MISERABLES in 2016 with @Saboviec. Join me? #LesMisRead2016

Thanks for stopping by, everyone, and don't forget--let us know what you thought of The Martian in the comments!


  1. Yay, Emma! I'm very excited to reread this Jane Austen classic. There's just something relaxing about letting yourself get into a story because you know you're in the hands of a master storyteller. Great job keeping up with Les Mis! You are inspiring me to tackle it myself... one day.

  2. As I read The Martian, I thought over and over again, "I would have given up." Just rolled over and accepted my fate. It made me think that I can be more resilient in facing my trials.

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