Houston, I Have Many Problems: Reviewing The Martian by Andy Weir

Andy Weir basically lived a Cinderella story for writers. His self-published book was noticed by Hollywood and turned into Oscar-nominated movie by the legendary director, Ridley Scott. His debut novel started out as curiosity that snowballed into a best-selling book. It stands on its own for its simple premise and new take on a survival story. I also may have mentioned the movie in my article about movie adaptations and, in case I didn’t mention it, I definitely recommend the movie as well.

It began with a freak dust storm on the surface of Mars. Mark Watney was lost in the dust and his crew had no choice but to leave him behind, thinking he was dead. When Watney awakes and is still very alive, he must do whatever he can to survive on the infamous red planet until the people of Earth realizes that he is still alive. With his engineering expertise, botany knowledge, and a quick sense of humor, Watney records his epic struggle to stay alive as the only human on Mars.

I’ve never been a science fanatic so I was a little wary when I first started reading this novel but I soon realized that this math and science was not out of my reach. Weir uses Watney’s sarcastic and knowledgable voice to explain how he utilizes his resources to endure the surface of Mars in a way that anyone can understand. It’s a funny and exhilarating narrative that takes the classic survival story to the next level. Though it is not necessarily a science fiction novel, The Martian is still a suspenseful journey nonetheless that will have you turning the pages to desperately find out Watney’s fate.

The Hidden Side of Hollywood: Reviewing Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher

I hopped onto the Star Wars craze a bit late. It wasn’t until the seventh movie came out that I realized I had been missing out on something. While I’m still not a die hard fan or anything like that, I found a new appreciation for the iconic movies series. Within that, I discovered that Carrie Fisher was a novelist. I sadly didn’t know about this until after her death but my curiosity was peaked and I wanted to remember her for something other than movies. I decided to read Postcards From the Edge and I was pleased to find Fisher’s other talents.

Suzanne Vale is an actress who knew she would end up in rehab at some point. It all started after an incident involving Percodan and scallops. Alex is a writer who doesn’t think of himself as an addict, despite his obvious love for cocaine. Their two stories come together as they reflect on their lives before rehab, their hopes for the future, and their fears of losing everything in the fickle entertainment industry.

Though this novel is relatively short, it packs a large punch of humor, honesty, and poignancy. Fisher provides these two narratives with plenty of unfiltered commentary about Hollywood and drug addictions and everything in between. There is no doubt that Fisher took a page out of real life in order to provide the profound revelations in her writing. Even if you aren’t involved in Hollywood, it is still easy to sympathize with Suzanne and Alex as they struggle to put their lives back together. Fisher’s humor and insight knows no bounds as she explores certain taboo topics. It is easy to remember why  Fisher was so loved by many after reading this novel.

Demons and Angels and Horsemen, Oh My!: Reviewing Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

It’s hard for me not to gush over a singular author but I am reviewing another Neil Gaiman novel. This one, however, is also co-authored by the late and great Terry Pratchett. If you know anything about these authors, you know that they both have written some of the more unique and profound novels. With ample amounts of wit and unconventional ideas, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch is a hilarious clever read.

Good Omens starts with the friendship between an angel named Aziraphale and a demon named Crowley. The two develop an odd sort of friendship and engage in a friendly rivalry between Heaven and Hell. The two are assigned by the higher powers to be the godparents of the Antichrist and guide him to decide between good and evil. Unfortunately, they find out they had been watching the wrong kid. Now, they must go search for the real Antichrist who is blissfully unaware of his powers. Meanwhile, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are plotting to destroy the world, a young man joins a witch hunting army out of boredom, and a young witch tries to see if her distant relative was actually a nutter. These strange but fascinating plots weave together to create one entertaining and amazing read.

Good Omens has a dry, sarcastic, absurd, and sometimes dirty sense of humor. Despite the initial strangeness of the narratives, its easy to get sucked in by the combined writing of Pratchett and Gaiman. Anyone looking for a humorous take on the supernatural and spiritual is guaranteed to enjoy this novel. It’s a quick enough read with an eclectic cast of characters that are both human and not. The story lines all come together to form a wild ride that will keep you laughing and intrigued until the very end.