Casual Reader – Martians and Vampires

I post my book reviews over on Goodreads these days, but occasionally stumble across a title that really deserves a special mention here as well. I should issue a vague spoiler alert warning here, but I do try to avoid ruining the stories as much as possible.

I picked this up on the back of a recommendation from a podcast, and it’s the first time in a long while I’ve been interested enough to buy straight away – rather than add to a wish list and peruse at a later date. I started reading and was instantly hooked.

The story follows the fight for survival of an astronaut abandoned on Mars when a mission goes wrong, the crew believe he’s dead, and they leave without him. Left to fend for himself with equipment that was only meant to last the length of the mission, our hero comes up with new and ingenious ways to try and extend his stay on the red planet.

I was absolutely riveted by the book, which I find odd because it’s mostly packed with endless logistics and an overload of science. Physics, chemistry, biology, all discussed in detail, and descriptions of plans and schemes that succeed or fail equally. Despite the fact it could be a dry read, the humour instilled throughout keeps it interesting, and every now and then you have to sit back and think – this is totally unbelievable and yet, so very, very believable.

I wasn’t at all surprised to see that Twentieth Century Fox have picked up the film rights for this one.

This was a really good read. Where vampires are all the rage at the moment, this was in a class of its own. It had the subtlety of Dracula, but equally the action, characterisation and even gore that you want of a modern book. I thought Oskar was a great protagonist, wide-eyed and innocent yet vengeful and conflicted.

The strands of the story wove together very well – the father and daughter that aren’t what they seem, the four friends who lose one of their own, and the group of boys bullying our hero. In the end, they all come together nicely, but I’ll tell you what – it’s Virginia I feel most sorry for.

Absolutely recommended, although can get a bit graphic in places.