Jen reviews Project Hail Mary, Andy Weir‘s stand-alone Sci-Fi novel.
Buddy read with my daughter. We both are huge fans of The Martian and were excited to read this newest book from Andy Weir.
|Date of Publishing: May 4th, 2021
|Trigger Warnings: mentions of death, burns, drugs, loneliness, confinement
|Page count: 476
|Publisher: Ballantine Books
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the Earth itself will perish.
Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.
All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.
His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.
And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.
Part scientific mystery, part dazzling interstellar journey, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian–while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.
“How did you do it? What killed it?”
“I penetrated the outer cell membrane with a nanosyringe.”
“You poked it with a stick?”
“No!” I said. “Well. Yes. But it was a scientific poke with a very scientific stick.”
“It took you two days to think of poking it with a stick.”
Big Sky by Collective Soul
Ryland Grace wakes aboard the Hail Mary (which btw. I laughed and laughed all through the book about these names and their double meanings) with no memories, and there starts our journey as he tries to figure out the how, what, and why’s, of his circumstances. I’ll try to stay vague without going into too many details – others have said it better anyway and there is something to be said about discovering and enjoying a story as it unfolds.
Having read and adored The Martian, multiple times (between book, movie, and the audio), I wondered with Project Hail Mary, with its similar-sounding premise of ‘science guy surviving alone in space’, if I would ever be able to separate myself from seeing Watney, as Ryland Grace.
Not a problem. Ryland and Mark couldn’t have been more different. It took no time at all to realize that it was never going to be an issue. Ryland is more of an everyday kind of guy. Which becomes more apparent as the story unfolds, and as good as he is at the sciency parts and stepping up when the chips are down, he is still just a school teacher and isn’t prepared mentally for what will be asked of him.
I hate to compare books but it’s hard not to when the one that came before is so beloved. That said, Project Hail Mary has the heart of The Martian – it’s hopeful and even heartwarming at times, with friendships, and that united-in-a-common-purpose-to-overcome-our-problems kind of theme, without feeling like a carbon copy…I think fans of that book will be happy. But it has a different feel in its style, the story doesn’t rely so heavily on a series of cliffies building to a grand finale, but works at a steadier pace, unfolding the events in the past, while tackling the problems in the now. Always keeping you curious as to how things got to this point, and how they can be fixed. That’s not to say there is no tension or surprises along the way, because there definitely is that, it’s just different.
At its core, Project Hail Mary is a buddy story about friendship, redemption, and of course, science. Weir has a way of making science accessible to people like me while giving us a relatable main character to root for, which is a lot of what makes his books so much fun.
A great story, totally recommend it.
I was a little undecided on the ending but after some time letting it settle in my mind, I think it couldn’t have gone any other way without losing the tone of the story or raising more questions.