THE MARTIAN. By Andy Weir. Crown. 384 pages. $24.
In the near future, mankind has successfully landed manned missions on Mars without mishap. The Ares 3 team, the third to explore the surface, has equipment, shelter and supplies for a two-month stay on the Red Planet. But a major windstorm changes their circumstances in a hurry in Andy Weir's debut novel, "The Martian," a story for readers who enjoy thrillers, science fiction, nonfiction or flat-out adventure.
The crew is forced to evacuate when dust begins to destroy their base camp. Mark Watney's pressure suit is torn by a piece of shrapnel, and the other crew members, assuming the worst, take off, leaving Watney behind. After the wind dies down and the dust settles, he regains consciousness and discovers that he's been abandoned and the only person remaining on the planet.
After repairing both his suit and the shelter, Watney realizes he must figure out how to survive so that he can be rescued by the crew of the next mission, which is scheduled to arrive in a few years.
Weir has created an authentic portrayal of the future of space travel, and Watney is the perfect character to follow as he struggles in an unknown and hostile environment.
Reviewer Jeff Ayers writes for the Associated Press.