I was going to read The Stand but I didn't want to read the 1,200 page extended and uncut edition (because honestly, I did that another book and it was totally not worth it.)
But luckily I had been loaned The Martian and so picked that up while I pondered how to get the slimmer version of one of the 2 remaining books on the the list.
But oh my god. How brilliant was this book? If you haven't seen the trailer for the film adaptation you should totally go do that.
I think even in the context of the book being about a dude on Mars, where most of the action takes place, I think it still passes the test because where they are back with NASA back on Earth or with the rest of his crew, there are women. In fact, the commander of their mission is a woman. Several other women do important things like realise Mark Watney (the dude on Mars) is alive. I love this. Small details but you know in other books they would have been all dudes. So yeah, Andy Weir, you are excellent.
It was genuinely tense and interesting and genuinely fucking hilarious. I want to be friends with Mark Watney because he sounds like a dude who would be fun to hang out with. I stopped and laughed for a good five seconds at many passages while reading (more like devouring as I started and finished it today). I think my favourite was the Aquaman line. Also that duct tape is magic and should be worshipped.
I think the best thing was though there was lots of technical shenanigans (official term) they were always explained why it worked (or didn't). But not in a patronising sense, it was just good writing. I think it was immensely well written (especially after the awfulness that was Sword of Shannara.)
Maybe the only unrealistic thing was the psychological aspect, that he would have kept it together for all that time. I think he did it through the power of sarcasm and swearing.
The delightful amount of swearing.
Totally 5/5 stars, so wonderful. SO COMPACT. Only 369 pages.