The Martian is often described as Cast Away in space. I definitively agree. It presents the incredible task of surviving, alone, in Mars. Just like Tom Hanks surviving in the island.
But improvising a life in Mars is several degrees more complex than in that island. That is why the main character in The Martian have to be a very very very smart guy, a little too MacGyver to be honest. Imagine Apollo 13, the movie, when NASA focus on converting ship scraps into a oxygen filter, but for the entire duration of the movie an done mostly by one guy.
80% of the book, Mark Watney is in dire straights. Always facing high odds of dying. That is why the book is so compelling. It sucks your soul, making you wonder at night “how he can pull this off now?”. Watney must have a clear state of mind all the time. I totally understand that it would not make any sense to write a book about a normal guy that get lost in Mars and dies after the first disaster. But Watney is too much the perfect guy to be lost in space.
The book sometimes abuses the technical description of the solution. It could be shorter by a bit. However, and is not a small achievement, there are at least 2 moments that I was totally crying due the narration and climax feeling.
It will become a movie directed by Ridly Scott and started by Matt Damon. I will definitively see the movie too.