Friday, February 13, 2015

The Martian by Andy Weir

by Bailey Fidler

The Martian is a gripping novel about a manned mission to Mars gone awry, by newcomer Andy Weir. His first novel, The Martian is a truly thrilling account of a mission to the red planet where one man, taken for dead by the rest of his team, must survive on limited resources and attempt to contact earth. His plight depends on his ability to problem solve and get creative.

This book is one of my favorites in years, and Weir writes with a passion that only a true space nerd could muster. With just enough technical information to inform the reader without getting bogged down, Weir manages to craft the most effective page turner since The Da Vinci Code.

 If you liked the movies Interstellar or Apollo 13, you’ll love The Martian. Weir has spun a masterpiece here, and you’ll want to read this one before next Thanksgiving, when acclaimed sci-fi director Ridley Scott’s (Alien, Blade Runner, Prometheus) adaptation of the book arrives in theaters, starring Matt Damon as astronaut Mark Watney.

All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu

by Alida Hanson

The body of African diaspora literature is growing, and this highly praised addition is set in Uganda and the American midwest during the 70s. The story is told in alternating voices: Isaac, a young man (in his 20s) living on a temporary visa in the midwest after being involved in a bloody Ugandan coup, and Helen, the social worker assigned to his case. They fall in love.

If the story were as simple as that you would be reading a different book. The themes here are love, loss, dislocation, and loneliness (it's heartbreaking). And, because of the first person alternating viewpoints, you're always working to figure out what's really happening. You have to be comfortable drawing your own inferences especially when it comes to character motivation.

I recommend this to readers who are interested in Africa, historical fiction or who like to keep up with the latest in serious literary fiction. Mengestu has written several other highly praised novels and I am interested in reading more.