Book Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

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Project Hail Mary is a fun and imaginative story of an interstellar mission to save the world from a hungry alien life form that is eating the sun’s energy. This is author Andy Weir’s follow up to his highly entertaining book, The Martian, and I have to say I liked it even better than The Martian.

I read Project Hail Mary as part of the 2022 Thoughtful Reading Challenge. May’s challenge was to read a book that takes place in space in honor of National Space Day (May 6).

The main character, Ryland Grace, is a junior high school science teacher and a very unlikely person to save Earth from a devastating ice age. He used to work in academia until he wrote a controversial paper that made him a pariah. However, that same paper catches the eye of the person in charge of developing a plan to address the alien microbes (a woman named Stratt – I can’t wait to see who plays her in the movie!).

Grace unwittingly becomes the world’s foremost expert on astrophage (the alien life form). But he doesn’t remember this at the very beginning of the book when he wakes up on a spaceship with his memory gone. His two crew mates lie dead in their beds and Grace can’t even remember his name, let alone the nature of his mission.

But he slowly pieces things together and, together with a charming alien named Rocky whose planet also has an astrophage problem, uses science and ingenuity to design a plan. But, of course, things don’t go smoothly. Can the two overcome adversity to save both worlds?

What a great novel! Andy Weir has a gift for making even deeply scientific stuff sound interesting to my very liberal arts brain. And I really like that his heroes are geeky scientists. Maybe his novels will inspire more young people to become heroic scientists and engineers.

There is plenty of action and drama in Project Hail Mary, but I think my favorite part of the story is the characters. Grace has a similar, funny, “what the heck have I gotten myself into” vibe as the main character in The Martian, and the Stratt character is priceless. But Rocky the alien stole the show, and some of my favorite scenes are ones where he and Grace are interacting.

I highly recommend Project Hail Mary, especially to fans of The Martian. But you don’t need to be a science fiction fan to enjoy this heartfelt story. There’s much more to it than science and space. It also has strong themes of friendship, loyalty, perseverance, and self-sacrifice.

Thanks, Deb, for the excellent recommendation!

**Reminder: June’s challenge is to read a book with a trip in it because it’s the season for fun vacations (and, actually, Project Hail Mary fits this category nicely).

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

  1. Sci-fi has never been my thing but as usual, you write so persuasively that I already put this on hold at our local library. Thanks! If you want to continue the space theme, I recommend Richard Linklater’s new movie Apollo 10 1/2. It’s described as a “space age fantasy” and it’s a great snapshot of the real Apollo launch and Houston ca. the late 1960s. Ten-year-old Sam is given the opportunity to go to the moon because NASA messed up and built the lunar module “a little too small.” The film is also rotoscoped (a particular kind of animation), which makes it interesting to watch.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a big science fiction reader, and I agree this is a remarkable book. Like The Martian, the focus on one person’s adventure works well. And I loved how much I came to care for Rocky. The ending (won’t give it away here) was unexpected and very satisfying.

    I have a question on a different topic. I have just started listening to the audiobook of Harry’s Trees, which I am sure I purchased a while ago based on a recommendation from you – or a fellow reader of this blog. Does that ring any bells? It is wonderful, so many thanks to whomever made the recommendation!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As a fellow liberal arts major, I don’t typically pick a science fiction book to read for pleasure. Then, when I saw how thick this book was, I was a bit worried! I had nothing to be concerned about – this was a fantastic book that kept me interested throughout. Okay, maybe a hundred pages shorter and I would have really, really liked it! Weir was masterful in weaving a tale that was interesting yet, essentially only had one main character (that was human). Fortunately, Grace was very likable as the story teller and his sense of humor despite his situation was really compelling. What also was amazing was how Weir created this alien who became my favorite character as well. The interaction of the alien Rocky and Grace truly was the best part of the book for me, particularly, the sarcastic humor. Funny, funny, funny. As I was reading the book, I kept wondering how it could end and be believable. I too did not see the ending coming and thought it was a brilliant finish to a really good book.

    Liked by 1 person

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