A survival novel that does well with its engineering and poorly with its people. The Martian satisfies a literary niche that doesn't often get scratched: stringing together bits of math, physics, and chemistry to tell a compelling story of an astronaut stranded on Mars. But Weir needs practice fleshing out his characters -- Astronaut Watley is quick with geeky humor and winks at popular culture to a point that sacrifices some of his credibility as someone who has presumably gone through training similar to the real life cast of The Right Stuff. Similarly, the women in this novel could be vary more from the outlines of a Hollywood script. Still, this is a nice kind of escapist literature if you want to think practically about surviving in an alien atmosphere, but the cast could have been better grounded in Earth.