The Martian

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Martian Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Gripping tale of space survival has unexpected humor.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 31 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Martian presents a very realistic picture of a near-future mission to Mars. It features many discussions of chemistry, physics, and biology, with the details presented in an engaging manner.

Positive Messages

Education in the sciences has many practical uses. When in a life-threatening situation, don't panic, but stop and think. Perseverance pays off.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mark Watney, the protagonist of The Martian, is an easygoing "everyman" who survives a deadly situation by remaining calm, thinking through the problem, and devising solutions that depend on his knowledge of science and engineering.


The first line of the book is "I'm pretty much f--ked." The Martian features adult professionals in highly stressful situations, and the amount of strong language rises accordingly. In addition to variants of "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole," used perhaps a dozen times each, the characters employ "damn," "hell," "bitch," and "ass" semi-frequently.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJames I. January 8, 2018

Great read!

This is a great book because of the detail and realism presented by Weir. Definitely would recommend if your parent is cool with the swearing.
Parent Written bySteph E. September 2, 2017

My daughter read this seven times in a row!

I read this book a couple of years ago and the whole time I knew I wanted my kids to read it. I recommended it to my eleven year-old and she read it seven time... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byKenzi333 November 11, 2015

Absolutely incredible

Honestly, I went into this book expecting to be disappointed. I'd heard so many good things about it that it just seemed impossible that it could actually... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byChezchadbread March 2, 2016

A Fun Read!

My dad's friend has so kindly gifted me this novel. Upon opening this thriller, I was apprehended with some of the funniest and best writing I have ever re... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction and outer space

Themes & Topics

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