Review: “Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Ballantine Books. 496 pages.

One of the first things I noticed when I picked up Project Hail Mary to read was a statement by author Brandor Sanderson on the back cover: “I loved The Martian, but I actually find Project Hail Mary to be Mr. Weir’s finest work to date.” That statement caught my attention, because The Martian is the book that Andy Weir is known for, and is one of my favorite books ever.

But Sanderson is right. This book is a better, richer, more in-depth book than The Martian, as hard as that claim is to believe. But before we get too far, here’s the Amazon summary:

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.

If you don’t like either first person telling or present tense, beware. It’s both of those things, but the author seems to have those tricks mastered. And If there’s one thing that might be an issue for some people, it’s that there’s a LOT of science in the story. In fact, Ernest Cline, author of Ready Player One, describes it as “a field trip to outer space with the best science teacher you’ve ever had.” And as part of that, there’s a lot of exposition, but once again, it’s done well. I can only wish I could tell my own stories as well.

Suffice it to say, if you like hard science fiction, this is a book you won’t want to miss. Five of five stars.