Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

by Heather Caliendo
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Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir is an exciting space novel from the author of The Martian.

I, like so many others, have always been fascinated with space. Who didn’t dream of becoming an astronaut when they were a kid? I’ve even started to read all kinds of kid astronaut books to my six-month-old (there’s so many good ones out now)!

Still, despite my love for space, I don’t read much science fiction. I personally feel that many of it drags; is so out there (pun not intended) and overall, just doesn’t hold my interest. But Andy Weir’s The Martian took a different route for me. I very much enjoyed the story, even thought it has a ton (many too many) science references. But it’s a creative and overall fairly fun story. I thought the movie was great too.

So I was eager to read his latest novel, Project Hail Mary. And it’s another good one! I did think it dragged a bit in places but it does eventually pick up and becomes a very exciting story.

What’s the Story About

Andy Weir does love his ‘man alone in space stories’! On the surface, this sounds quite similar to The Martian as Project Hail Mary is about the fate of the planet in one man’s hands. Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission—and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. When he wakes up on the ship, he has very little memories of what exactly is happening. So he slowly pieces together the past while trying to work on his mission in the present.

His crew-mates are dead and it’s up to him to save planet earth. But he has to solve a huge scientific mystery, which is daunting for one person. However, he might get some help along the way…

Man on a Mission

The amnesia aspect works really well with this one! We slowly find out the purpose of the mission as Ryland does. And it honestly it’s pretty scary! It felt pretty realistic of the disaster facing earth. Prior to this mission, Ryland served as a science teacher so a big question is why was he selected for an earth saving space trip? The author provides the answer to all of that and more.

Ryland is a good character. He’s funny, kind of goofy and very intelligent. This mission is serious but the author makes sure to add a good amount of humor, which is a nice balance. It’s a lot of funny, one line thoughts combined with scientific initiative and study.

Sometimes the science aspect gets a bit too much for me. Again, I totally appreciate all the hard work and research the author put into it but there are times I was ready for the plot to move forward but we’re stuck in science land. However, I’m sure many people do love all those science details.

Not Alone

No spoilers here but what set Project Hail Mary apart from The Martian is Ryland is actually not all alone on this journey. I won’t reveal what happens but the reason I mention this is because I feel the story really took off when it’s not a solo journey. I kind of felt my attention was waning until then so stick with it! I absolutely loved the dynamic—it was fascinating, engaging, heartfelt and unique. So so so so good!

In fact, the friendship is a big reason why I actually enjoyed this one better than The Martian. Apparently, Hollywood is already turning this novel into a movie with Ryan Gosling and I can’t wait to see the friendship on the big screen.

Verdict

Project Hail Mary is an enjoyable novel about a man’s journey to save the human race. It’s also about an unlikely friendship. Sometimes it’s too heavy on science details for me but I still liked it quite a bit.

For book clubs, check out my discussion questions here.

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