Stayed up all night to read this. This is the fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat story of an astronaut who is accidentally left behind on Mars and how he survives and returns to Earth. It's full of hard science and there is plenty of day-to-day info on how he has to alter his equipment and environment to stay alive. So if you don't like that level of detail in your Scifi this may not be for you. But if you do you are going to be in heaven. I remain completely IN AWE of the author's knowledge. How can he know so much??? There is scientific expertise and familiarity oozing from every word. Astrobiology, astrophysics and chemistry, radiation theory, astronautics, engineering, navigation, solar energy... the list is endless. I had to stop reading every now and then so my inner geek could smile and do a happy dance.
The story starts abruptly with an accident which separates Mark from his fellow astronauts who leave him behind on the planet, thinking he has died. At first no-one on Earth knows he is still alive but by 20% they have found out. By 30% they have established contact, and by 50% his former colleagues find out (they were on their way home). Several nail-biting attempts are made to send provisions only to fail at the last moment.
As the story plays out, all the world is watching the satellite photos of Mark's struggle and reading his daily updates. Offers of help come from surprising sources.
This is purely action based writing. Mark doesn't spend a lot of time angsting over his situation or pondering his life alone. The writing is not descriptive or poetic. It's functional. It just tells an amazing and very accessible tale of survival and ingenuity that reads like a true story. I can't wait to see the movie. It will make Gravity look like a walk in the park.