This is the first fiction book I’ve read in five years and I picked it somewhat on a whim (linked to on MR). Didn’t read any reviews, didn’t look up anything about it. Actually, what did it for me was that it only cost $3 on Amazon Kindle. Tyler’s review sums it up well enough:
Ostensibly science fiction, but more a 21st century Robinson Crusoe story — set on Mars of course — with huge amounts of (ingenious) engineering driving the story.
Engineering porn, really. Loved it.
The backstory of how it was (self-) published is interesting, too.
Having been rebuffed by literary agents when trying to get prior books published, Weir decided to put the book online in serial format one chapter at a time for free at his website. At the request of fans he made an Amazon Kindle version available through Amazon.com at 99 cents (the minimum he could set the price). The Kindle edition rose to the top of Amazon’s list of best-selling science-fiction titles, where it sold 35,000 copies in three months. This garnered the attention of publishers: Podium Publishing, an audiobook publisher, signed for the audiobook rights in January 2013. Weir sold the print rights to Crown in March 2013 for six figures.