Especially one that expects nobody to read.
According to my observation people don’t like this book mainly for two reasons:
1. As a hard science fiction, it is scientific enough but not fictional enough.
2. The journey-style writing is pretentious, the plot predictable, and the characters flat.
Ok there’s a third one. Some people just hate dry wit in a book, let alone profanity. Perhaps they are right to some degree but that doesn’t make it less readable to me.
I’m not a sci-fi reader, to wit, I don’t particularly enjoy the fantastic premises or technical details. But I was really into it. The storyline is logical and the narration is elaborate. The dire plight sounds amazingly real and Mark Watney has a magnetic personality, which, unfortunately, seems too irreverent or one-dimensional to be liked by some. I also find the writing extremely appropriate and interesting. Consider the possibility that a NASA astronaut, the crème de la crème, suddenly turns into some serious writer like Stefan Zweig (no offense) in such a life and death situation. Doesn’t make sense to me. Nerds don’t usually share their in-depth thoughts on “serious stuff” in log entries, come on.
Actually with some background in science, you should have no problem getting through the math calculations and chemical processes. No far out speculation included. It’s not that “hard” to read once you’ve figured out what the abbreviations (MDV, JPL etc.) basically mean. If you prefer not to let the mechanical or chemical or biological knowledge go over your head, fine, just let them float. After all they are not the whole essence of the novel. Well, two thirds of it.
Just use your imagination, employ your “little grey cells”. And try not to expect too much. Don’t expect something like profundity, something magnificently beautiful which you might find DIRECTLY in other great sci-fis(I can hardly think of one though). It is a tedious nerdy blog as well as an unprecedented survival drama. It could be anything but a purple prose.
By the way, I heard Ridley Scott directed the movie. Hope he doesn’t make it another Blade Runner.