A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Andy Weir's The Martian is a gripping, realistic tale of survival on an alien planet that's been popular with both adults and teens. Botanist Mark Watney is left for dead on Mars and must devise a way to stay alive until he's rescued. The story emphasizes the values of science and logical thinking. Adult characters under pressure often use strong language, including variants of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "damn," "hell," "ass," and "bitch." No violence or sexual content. You may want to check out the 2015 film adaptation starring Matt Damon.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After a wind-whipped antenna punctures his space suit, botanist Mark Watney is left for dead on the surface of Mars. He survives that initial calamity but finds himself alone on the planet with no idea how to communicate with anyone back on Earth. His food, water, and oxygen will only last so long, so he needs to devise a plan that will let him live until rescue arrives. There's little room for error, though, and Watney comes dangerously close to disaster on numerous occasions.
Is it any good?
A first novel originally serialized on author Andy Weir's personal website, this 21st-century Robinson-Crusoe-on-Mars tale starts strong and maintains a high level of suspense. Mark Watney is an instantly likable protagonist: brave, resourceful, and smart and possessing an engaging sense of humor.
The tech talk may occasionally get a little thick, and some of the supporting characters are less than well-rounded, but Weir does a great job of escalating predicaments for his main character to surmount.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why people enjoy tales of survival against long odds. What others have you read or seen as movies?
What are some ways of staying calm in the middle of a crisis? How can you control your emotions to think rationally?
Do you think exploring other planets is a worthwhile endeavor? What kinds of information can come from such missions?
- Author: Andy Weir
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: STEM, Adventures, Great Boy Role Models, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Broadway Books
- Publication date: October 27, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 387
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love science fiction and outer space
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.