Cover Image: Project Hail Mary

Project Hail Mary

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I adored this book. Something about the way our protagonists rooted for each other had me desperate for a happy ending. The same race against time, lots of disasters some serious science plus MacGuyvering we've come to know form Andy!
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Confession - this was my first Andy Weir book. I didn’t read ‘The Martian’ (I will now, don’t come for me!). Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last chance mission and if he fails earth and humanity itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t 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 long time. Alone on a 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 to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance. Quite an epic plot.

Weir is hilarious. His mix of humour and amazing narration just works. This was just so enjoyable to read and he was able to create the sweetest characters. I can’t remember ever being this invested in a sci-fi novel. I feel at times I got bogged down with the science stuff, but that’s just me personally, Weir made the it stomachable and I’m imagining most will enjoy how he’s incorporated it into the story. Science aside, this story is about friendship and hope.

If I were to sum up this book in a few words it would be emotive, imaginative and epic.

As always a massive thank you to NetGalley and the publisher #RandomHouseUK and #cornerstone for providing me with a copy of this ARC. An absolute privilege I am always grateful for.

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This was a 5 star prediction for me, and from the start, it ended up being an easy 5 star read. I went into this hardly knowing anything about it - I didn't even read the synopsis - and I recommend you do the same, because that makes for the most enjoyable reading experience. This book masterfully built up my anticipation, and so much so that I had to read it in small doses and take breaks, because I just could not take the tension. But it also really paid off, because you get rewarded with literally so many twists and turns - ones that are actually interesting and that you usually won't see coming. I loved how suspenseful this book was, all the while never losing hope for a good outcome, and it was a really funny read as well, which did a good job relieving the tension.
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This book is a science nerds dream, in fact I think if you took out all the science formulae the book would only be 1/4 it’s size in length. As much as I loved The Martian I found it a bit of an effort to keep reading this and to be honest I only accomplished it by skipping copious pages of data. The bones of the story are great and the ending so unexpected. 
Grace is on a life saving mission to find out why the sun is dying. Because the journey is so long, he and his fellow astronauts are put into a coma to endure the ride. Upon awakening, Grace has no idea here he is or why, through flashes of memory he determines his task and is dismayed to discover his 2 fellow astronauts long since deceased. It’s a suicide mission, as he has only enough fuel and food to get to the Star, not home as well. He soon discovers he is not alone, there is another spaceship in his orbit and it is there for the same reason as him, their planet is dying. So the two astronauts form an alliance, and although they can not survive in each other’s atmosphere, they soon work out a way to communicate and live side by side to save their planets.
It’s the relationship between the two that is the saving grace of the book for me and although the ending was quite unexpected it was right.

#netgalley #projecthailmary
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This is a science fiction book by the author of "The Martian" on which the Matt Damon movie was based. What both books have in common is proper science, what we call hard science fiction, but the scope is much greater: the entire existence of life on earth is threatened. The story switches between the main character who's out in space trying to save the world, and flashbacks to the crisis on earth as he gradually regains his memory lost during the trip.

What I love about the book? Two things: the character development of the protagonist and the friendship he develops with an alien from another planet which is in the same predicament as earth. A heartwarming book with subtle humour, very well written.
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I had a lot of fun reading this book. I have to say out of all the Andy Weir's novels I've previously read, this one is my favourite. Largely down to the character of Rocky I must admit.  Who knew a spider-like engineering alien could be so charming. 

This book definitely has a huge amount of science background, it was interesting to see a mix of scientific theories and facts mixed with a fictional story. As much as it could, it gave an apocalyptic survival space story a realistic back drop. From how extinction and natural disasters would play out on earth to the psychological response from humans to this event. 

That being said, the sheer amount of scientific and mathematic knowledge could be a little overwhelming at times. Almost in a way a scene can be overly descriptive, at times I felt the author went too in depth with certain things that weighed down the pace of a scene, especially when it came to tense/high pressure situations. 
I can understand why this may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I did enjoy learning many new facts about the sheer vastness of space. 

There was quite a bit of humour here, too. Which was a really nice surprise. I think if you enjoyed the dry humour of 'The Martian' you'll definitely enjoy Andy Weir's familiar writing style. 

I thought perhaps the last few chapters were a little rushed. Without giving spoilers of course. Although I understand at already over 500 pages, adding the amount of detail could have easily run up to another 500. 
For such a bleak and seemingly hopeless plot scenario I really did enjoy the cheerful if bittersweet ending for Ryland Grace.
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Thrilling sci-fi that takes you on a wild adventure through space! I really enjoyed this read! I especially loved that you don’t have to know loads of sciency stuff to really enjoy this.
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Thrilling and brilliant, Project Hail Mary takes you on a rollercoaster journey into the stars and doesn't look back. I was enthralled by every second of this story.
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I  still remember when I watched The Martian and then read it long after I watched the movie. It was such a good book. The tone of the book and overall balance made me love it so much more than other books of similar tones. I think with Project Hail Mary, I got the improved version of the author’s writing with far more adventure and entertainment than The Martian and that’s saying a lot.

I think the thing that I enjoy the most about Andy Weir’s books is that despite having a healthy dose of science-y stuff going on in the book, both plot wise and just in general, there’s always something that doesn’t seem like it should or would work in real life and then it sort of does? And this time with that, the author added a buddy to the whole experience which was my favourite thing to read about if I am being perfectly honest. It was those interactions and trying to understand each other that made me giddy and happy. Friendships, man. They get you and then you are hooked.

In Project Hail Mary, Ryland Grace wakes up from coma with no memory of where he is and why he is where he is. He slowly puts together things from his past and as we find more and more about the past, we are also treated with a real and very imminent problem of what is essentially a dying star because a species of microbes decided to make the stars part of their main diet. It’s an amazing ride with a few horror-filled moments scattered throughout.

I really loved the competence of Mark Watney in The Martian and we can find the somewhat similar traits in Ryland Grace too and this could be the making or the breaking of the book for you. Few have found it to be the breaking point but I like sciencey stuff and people who are sent to space are supposed to be pretty good at science so I had no problems with it. Now, let’s stop my overly happy and nerdy babbling out of the way, it’s hard but I will try my best to review this book without repeating how neat and fun this book is, although that alone should sell you, I think.

When I talked about the buddy, I want to say that Rocky is the best friend anyone could ask for. There’s no dramatic space battle happening, nor is there any scary space things happening other than the usual stuff that we know of but there’s a deadline and Rocky and Ryland have to work together to solve the problem of Astrophage, the microbes that are threatening the star systems while evolving. It’s fun and it’s science-y. I know, I keep saying the word too much but it’s just fun, okay?

I think Andy Weir’s strength lies in making science sound fun while keeping the stakes high enough to move the book forward. Ryland is intelligent and competent and just nerdy enough to make me happy. There’s so much about this book that makes me happy but I think, in general, it’s just the basic faith in us as people and trying to solve the problem without losing our minds. There are so many quotes that are worth highlighting and I can’t share them all but the few that I shared are enough, I hope, to entice you into reading this.
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4/5 - Kindle
ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone
Science Fiction / Thriller
Popsugar 2021 - Prompt 47: Associated with a favourite person, place or thing.

“How did you do it? What killed it?”
“I penetrated the outer 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.”

This book was exactly what I wanted it to be. After reading Artemis earlier this year I was worried I would be disappointed again, but this was a massive turn around for Weir as this book took all of the things I loved about The Martian and tweaked and enhanced them to create a story that is so caked in real world science that it was hard for me not to love it.

But I have to save humanity first. Stupid humanity. Getting in the way of my hobbies

Ryland Grace wakes up on a spaceship, his crew has died and he alone is the sole survivor. But he can't remember why he's there, he can't even remember his own name. Over time he starts to remember what his mission is, and why he is Earth's last chance at survival.

And just like that another climate denier is born. See how easy it is? All I have to do is tell you something you don’t want to hear.

The character Ryland Grace is almost identical to Mark Watney from The Martian. Same problem solving skills, same ability to think on his feet about a multitude of science disciplines, same witty and sarcastic sense of humour. I would find a problem in this if I didn't find characters like this so enjoyable to read. I found myself smiling often at some of the one liners. The story was almost fantasy, but because everything was explained (and if you don't like scientific explanations this book is probably not for you) there really was no part of this where I was taken out of the story with a 'how the hell did that happen' (which is not uncommon for me with SciFi books that tend to the fantastical). It was overall a pretty original take on a doomsday event mixed with space travel, I enjoyed everything the book commented on.

The only issue I found was that the story was lacking pace in some areas. Although a lot was happening, the thriller part of how will he get himself out of this problem didn't have its usual suspense. I think with a bit more of an explanation about the problem and maybe a bit more catastrophizing how this problem could have led to mission failure would have kept the pace a bit more engaging, but overall a big improvement from Artemis.

I’m a scientist! Now we’re getting somewhere! Time for me to use science. All right, genius brain: come up with something! …I’m hungry. You have failed me, brain.
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With Project Hail Mary Andy Weir delivers a fun and highly realistic sci-fi thriller that manages to be complex yet accessible. Oh, and it’s basically a space buddy comedy that’ll leave you amazed and hopeful for humanity.

Andy Weir truly puts the science in science fiction. The setup of the story feels eerily possible and watching the plot unfold as problems arise was absolutely delightful. Having the science be realistic and based mostly on current knowledge made this book feel very grounded, even in its more speculative parts. Admittedly, I may be biased simply because I spent a lot of time last semester in a seminar about SETI considering the issues and possibilities of alien intelligence and how we might communicate with it.

Project Hail Mary is effectively told in a dual timeline. Personally, I found this a great way to get to know Ryland better and introduce some other characters! However, the amnesia that starts the plot disappointed me in its execution. I would’ve liked it to be more than just the hook for the story, the way the book was pitched made me expect it to be a bigger part, which it ultimately wasn’t.

Additionally, Ryland’s grief doesn’t really play a part either. There’s probably more moments where he makes jokes about imperial vs. metric measurements as an American scientist than moments where he grieves his crew. He mostly suppresses his emotions. And yeah, this is mostly a feel-good book, but I can’t help feeling like Weir missed a chance for some more emotional moments.

Unfortunately, somehow the stakes didn’t feel as high to me? Probably because it’s mostly an “all of humanity will die” situation. But at that point, Ryland isn’t exactly part of humanity on earth anymore. Besides, it’s very likely a suicide mission for him anyway, and there aren’t as many personal stakes for him.

But overall, I didn’t mind it that much because I loved Rocky’s and Ryland’s friendship and dynamics so much fun and the overall plot science caught me enough. But if you’re expecting this to be a super tense high-stakes sci-fi thriller, it might fall a bit short!

Speaking of Rocky: what a fun character! I had a blast watching Ryland understand Rocky. The logistics of communicating with an alien species are fascinating in theory and getting a version of what it might actually look like was incredible. Project Hail Mary is effectively a buddy comedy…but in space with two species at stake.

I truly appreciated Rocky’s character design. Weir clearly put a lot of thought into how the Eridians would have evolved and that scientific knowledge comes through! Of course, it’s still all speculative, but it feels plausible within our current knowledge of the universe and the conditions of life. I also enjoyed how the unique qualities of the Eridians were plot-relevant!

Ultimately, Project Hail Mary was a wonderfully accessible complex sci-fi novel with a great central friendship and many jaw-dropping problems and solutions. Andy Weir’s mind seems like a wonderful place and I am always happy to watch him build and solve problems I can’t even fathom!
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Incredible! I’m not going to write a lengthy review or hint at anything that happens in this book. Read the blurb if you want that. 

This is, for me, the 2nd favourite book I have read in 2021 and easily the 1st best Sci-fi I have read in many years. 

At times I think Weir let’s the science get in the way of a brilliant story. I teach math for my day job the last thing I want to do is read more about physics and math while I relax. That is my only criticism and it’s a very tiny one because this was the most beautiful, moving story. it is funny and heart wrenching and Weir keeps the momentum of the story moving towards a pulse pounding and very satisfying conclusion. 

Do yourself a favour and get this book!!!
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I read this for my SFF book club and I absolutely loved it. Right from the start this drew me in and I found myself getting more and more hooked as time went on and we got to know the main character Ryland Grace and a character he meets later on, Rocky. The Earth is facing a mass extinction problem when a tiny new life form is discovered and seems to have infected the Sun and is drawing heat and light energy from it. Humanity have to find a way to stop this new life form, and if they don't they will die. They have one solution, Project Hail Mary...

What I really enjoyed and appreciated about this is it feels like a similar style to The Martian, in that there's A LOT of science, but it's approachable. The main character is a fairly down to earth character even though he's a scientist, and we get to discover the events which led to Project Hail Mary along with him as his memories return. We also get to see him problem solving all over the place and using science in some wacky but creative and death-defying ways. 

Rocky is my absolute favourite character. Once he joined the plot it became an instant favourite for me as the relationship formed and the development they go through is immense. I don't want to give much of Rocky away, but suffice to say he was sassy and ingenious and absolutely the kind of character I think bounced well off of the science-heavy Dr Grace. 

The explorer side of this story is more interstellar and vast than that of The Martian, and this feels like it's a step beyond that in scope, overall plot, and drama. I really feel as though if you liked The Martian you'd love this and I am so pleased to see a new book in a similar vein from this author. 

I'd highly recommend checking this one out even if you're not a big SF reader as I think it's very approachable despite the amount of science, and it's a story I think many could connect with! 5*s from me :)
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I’ve now read all of Weir's novels, and I think I’ve got a firm idea of the type of story he likes to write. His sense of humour is always threaded through the entire book and it’s a bit of a miss for me. In this story in particular I noticed straight away the character wakes up in an unfamiliar medical environment and starts joking about tubes in his butt and alien probes. Honestly, that just wasn’t funny to me and I thought it took away from what could have been a great opening if it had been written in a less comedic style. The comedy got less intense as the book continues and I found the rest of it didn’t take away from the story but simply didn’t enhance my enjoyment. 
And I think it stems from the fact that I felt like I was reading Mark Watney lite. The sense of humour is strong in all of Weir's books and I think it leaves a lot of his characters with the same flavour, jokey science nerds who are incredibly clever but can’t take anything serious. I thought that was great in the Martian but as more characters have the same attitude it becomes less fun to read. And that’s my only real complaint with Project Hail Mary. Our character is always ending up in situations that just kind of happen to him and then his superior knowledge saves him every time, and it just falls a little flat. 
Aside from the character feeling juvenile, the plot was great. Another lone astronaut in space, sure, but this one didn’t feel like a re-do of The Martian. The plot was built up over the book with flashbacks adding complexity and more of that science heavy problem-solving I liked so much in his debut. 
All in all, this was a fun science fiction book that I had a good time reading. I’m not sure if it has the same star quality of The Martian, but it’s not far off.
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AH MAN, this review has taken me so long to write! Honestly this has been my favourite book of the year and I think about it a lot since I read it! I am actually listening to the audio of it now, through Audible and I’m enjoying it just as much from listening although I am glad I’ve already read it so I know a little of the science.

If anything pulls Weir’s books back for readers, I guarantee it will be the science, even though Weir makes it incredibly accessible it does tend to make some brains switch off if they can’t follow it word for word. I have found with a lot of my fellows, that if something complex is in the narrative they either gloss over it or they put the book down and that includes science talk. I’m in the former category … I read it, my brain knows it doesn’t really have the base knowledge to get to grips with this and it moves on. I don’t let it impact my enjoyment of the story - in fact, it’s better because I don’t have to overthink anything now - my reading brain basically treats the author as some all powerful and all knowing creature and believes everything it is told by them, ha!

Anyway, back to Project Hail Mary … this book contains what is possibly my favourite character arc ever in Ryland Grace. My stomach did flip-flops, I couldn’t decide if he was good or bad and I dreaded the end of the book. Turns out, Ryland Grace is a human and Weir captures that perfectly in his narrative style. Grace is a teacher on Earth because he is considered a bit of a joke after writing a paper on the creation of life, he teaches kids and in all honesty, he has a bit of an immature streak in his sarcastic and dry humour, but that only serves to make him more accessible to the reader. In space, Grace is a survivor and an adventurer, his true nerd-self comes out and it is hilarious to read. I really enjoyed him as a protagonist and narrator.

As a huge fan of The Martian and Artemis I was anxious about where Weir would take us next, throughout the narrative you question why Grace is on this ship in space? why is he the only survivor? what is he doing? But to unravel the story, Weir interweaves a past narrative and as everything becomes unravelled you get the sense of oooooooh! You really can’t beat that dawning realisation as everything falls into place which is why it’s staying top of my 2021 books for a while! Project Hail Mary gave me a serious book hangover but I loved it! And even though it is one man stuck in space I can promise you it is nothing like The Martian!

Audio Lovers! As well as recommending the physical book I’d highly rate the audio! I’m about halfway through and loving it, the narrator is perfect!

I know my review is sparse but I really don’t want to spoil any part of Project Hail Mary for anyone! Please reach out to me on any platform (I check instagram most regularly) to discuss in more detail!
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This book was one of most anticipated for this year. I’d had it one pre order for ages and then as is often the way didn’t get to pick it up for a couple of weeks after I finally got my hands on it. I’m delighted to say that it absolutely lived up to my expectations and I thoroughly loved it.

The style felt very similar the that of The Martian (which I also loved) in that there are sections set with our main character in space – on a ship this time, not on a planet – and sections on Earth, only this time those Earth sections are flashbacks to how Ryland Grace and the ship Hail Mary came to be where they are.

Ryland was an instantly likeable character, practical, with a sense of purpose and humour – despite the mission he finds himself on. I really enjoyed the character development he went under as well. The real stand out for me though was Rocky, he was just so fun to get to know and the interplay between Grace and Rocky was superb.

Stratt who we meet in the on Earth sections of the book is a fascinating character. Completely willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done while showing the smallest glimpses of what it costs her to do it. I liked how she was so incredibly focussed and strong but also will to (very occasionally) be pulled up on her behaviour.

A superb Science Fiction read, that had all the humanity and hope that I’ve come to expect from Andy Weirs writing.
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Full review available on my blog on the 17th June.
Thanks to Del Rey for the eARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.

I got this eARC just before release date, and in the end I decided to buy the audiobook to listen along while reading. I’m really glad I did, as the audiobook is an incredible reading experience. I think it’s safe to say that I’ll be listening to this one again and again, I can see it becoming as much of a comfort read as THE MARTIAN. THE MARTIAN was on my top ten books of 2020 and I’ve reread it enough times since then that I’ve lost count, but I was disappointed to find that I didn’t like ARTEMIS, Weir’s second novel. PROJECT HAIL MARY leapt right back up to the top of the favourite books list again.

We’re back to a similar situation, an isolated astronaut out in space. Alone. Or not so alone, as it turns out. This is a first contact story, which is one of my absolute favourite sci-fi storylines, and I adored the way that the alien language was portrayed in the audiobook. If you enjoy loveable aliens (and how could you not), this is absolutely the perfect book for you. The science threaded throughout is well-explained and has the same realistic energy as THE MARTIAN. Ryland is easy to adore as Mark, and I so badly want a movie of this book.

I think the thing I love about Weir’s writing is that it’s just so fun. It’s hard to explain everything that I love about this book without spoiling it, and honestly I think this book is meant to be experienced. Going into it mostly blind is the best way to enjoy it. It’s weird and wonderful and fun, full of optimism and a surprising amount of pure joy. Even when the threats to Ryland (and humanity) seem overwhelming, the book is still wonderful and fun. Even writing this review, I’m itching to reread it.
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'Project Hail Mary’ is the latest science fiction book by Andy Weir, most famous for writing ‘The Martian’. It’s an audacious book, packing in a huge amount of science alongside Weir’s typical humour and witty characters. There are a few minor niggles, but overall this is an excellent, well-balanced story. Fans of ‘The Martian’, and of science fiction in general, should find plenty to enjoy.

A very long way from Earth, a man wakes up. To his surprise, he can’t remember his own name – but that’s almost insignificant when he figures out he’s stranded on a spaceship with only two dead crewmates for company. As his memories start to return, he starts to remember an extincition-level threat to humanity – and he realises succeeding at his mission is the only possible way to prevent it. Too bad he can’t member what that mission is right now. Against all the odds, he’s determined to figure out what he has to do – after all, he’s the only one out here in space. Isn’t he?

The book contains several distinct arcs, with variable pacing, but each flows smoothly and feels engaging. The first, the protagonist figuring out his own identity, is the slowest. There’s a great deal of exposition, but the reader and the protagonist are figuring everything out together, creating a strong sense of empathy. Weir also drops in little nuggets of humour, adding lightness to what can otherwise be long and difficult scenes. By the time the protagonist – Ryland – comes to understand his own identity, the reader has been granted all the basic scene setting, and the story thus transitions smoothly into the next arc – an intriguing direction which would be a spoiler to discuss.

Ryland is very reminiscent of Mark Watney, the protagonist of ‘The Martian’, but also has his own idiosyncracies. He’s an optimistic pessimist, outwardly light-hearted and funny, but also plagued by deep-seated negative thoughts. Endlessly practical and incredibly smart, he figures out most problems surprisingly easily – although he has a tendency to overwork and sometimes overlooks things staring him in the face. He’s impossible not to like, and while he isn’t perfect he has a good heart and tries to do the right thing.

This is a very sciencey book, with a lot of complex physics thrown in. I can’t pretend to understand every aspect, but whilst Weir stretches the boundaries of plausibility he still keeps everything the right side of believable. Its definitely a book aimed at readers of hard science fiction – for those without basic knowledge of science, sections may read a little like a semi-accurate textbook. The jargon is all explained, but in order to strike the right balance between giving enough information and avoiding info-dumping a little accessibility is probably lost. I’ll be interested to read the reviews of complete non-scientists to see how they find it, especially the physics component.

Weir should also be credited for his imagination. In some ways, ‘Project Hail Mary’ is much like ‘The Martian’, with a man on a mission alone in space – but beyond the basic premise, there’s a vast divergence. ‘The Martian’ contained a great deal of creative and complex science fiction, but ‘Project Hail Mary’ goes even further, showing off the diversity of space and the potential that offers. Its hard to discuss this in detail without giving anything away, but I’m impressed.

My main minor issues lie with the humour. Mostly, this works really well, adding lightness to heavier scenes and depth to Ryland’s character. However, in places, it just comes across crass. There are a couple of scenes with random references to sex, presumably for comedic value, but it just comes across awkward and threatens immersion and believability. However, the story is otherwise gripping and clever, and its still easy to enjoy even with a few odd scenes.

Overall, ‘Project Hail Mary’ is an excellent science fiction novel, combining hard science with an engaging story and likeable characters. Recommended for fans of Weir’s previous work, but also all fans of hard science fiction, creative worldbuilding, and stories with light humour.
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Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

When Ryland Grace wakes up from an induced coma, he has no idea where he is or even who he is. He just knows that the two people with him weren’t so lucky, both are dead in their pods. He doesn’t remember them either, yet. But the grief will come. Slowly, and with the rather annoying ‘help’ of a very basic AI, Grace realises that he has been asleep for a very long time, he is aboard the spaceship Hail Mary and that sun out there isn’t even Earth’s. He remembers his mission – he is the only chance Earth has. Earth’s sun is under attack by small ‘things’ that are consuming its power. In one generation, much of life will be dead. But a seed of hope has been detected here, light years from home and, Ryland Grace, a scientist and school teacher, is going to have to work out how to fix the sun.

How a school teacher ended up in this situation forms half of Project Hail Mary as the chapters flit between Ryland’s current predicament and the months that led up to it – and this means we meet Eva Stratt, my favourite character of the novel. This woman has been tasked with project managing the salvation of Earth. She has absolute authority over everyone on Earth, fully aware that one day, if her project succeeds, she’ll pay for it. Anything she needs, she gets, including Ryland Grace, who seems to have an innate understanding of what he has named Astrophage. I absolutely loved Eva who embodies control while also suffering under its burden. Some odd statements are given to her, though, such as when she says that an ideal crew would comprise ‘all heterosexual males’. Not a particularly useful or helpful statement to present as fact in a novel in this day and age.

There is another amazing character in this novel but I’m not saying a word about them but I really want you to meet them – if you’ve read the book, you’ll know just who I mean!

Ryland Grace is, to all intents and purposes, Mark Watney (of The Martian fame, although there are some interesting aspects to Grace’s character that are slowly revealed which are unlike Watney. But it’s true to say that with Project Hail Mary, Andy Weir has returned to the ‘safe’ territory of The Martian after the disappointment that was Artemis, and that is very good news indeed. Once more we have a practical scientist, out there in a perilous bit of space, who has to science his way out of it, with us egging him on.

The humour is similar to that of The Martian. It can be a bit irritating at times (especially in the audiobook, which is how I read this) but there are some laugh out loud moments, despite the predicament, and I really enjoyed spending time in Ryland Grace’s head. I should mention that the narrator of the audiobook, Ray Porter, is absolutely fantastic.

Then we come to the science itself. I’m pretty sure that 95% of it flew right over my head. There are info dumps and they’re the size of Everest. But it’s that sort of book. They need to be there and it didn’t bother me that I hadn’t a clue what he was going on about. I was there for the story and that I loved. I really enjoyed The Martian and I was thrilled to have more of the same. Andy Weir is so good at it.

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I am grateful to NetGalley and to Penguin-Random House UK (Cornerstone Digital) for providing me an ARC copy of this novel which I freely chose to review.
I have read and enjoyed the two novels Andy Weir has published before, and I am a fan of his first, The Martian, which I’ve recommended to many people I thought would enjoy it (especially those with a scientific and curious mind, and who don’t mind a first-person narrative from somebody with a goofy sense of humour and full of references to pop culture). 
And I loved this book as well. It shares many of the characteristics of The Martian: a geeky protagonist (this time a biologist who after some disappointments with the reception of his research left academia to become a science teacher), who ends up isolated and trying to survive in an strange environment, although this time what is at stake goes beyond his own life, as he discovers that he is on a mission vital for the survival of planet Earth. There is a lot of emphasis on science, and we get to share in Grace’s experiments, theories, and discoveries, and as this is also a first-person narration, we get to experience his hopes and disappointments first-hand. The protagonist also has quite a sharp sense of humour and does not spend a lot of time moping around, despite (or perhaps because of) his peculiar circumstances. He does have the odd moment when he becomes overwhelmed by his feelings or his nostalgia, but he is pretty stoic the majority of the time, and most of his deep thinking is dedicated to solving problems, rather than to thinking about himself or his personal life, which we don’t know a lot about. 
There are also things that are quite different. He has been in a coma for over four years, and he is suffering from amnesia when the novel starts, and that means he is a prime example of the unreliable narrator. He cannot even remember his name, and his theories and assumptions are not limited to his experiments, but cover also his previous life and the circumstances that brought him to the mission. The contemporary narration is interrupted at times by flashes of memory, and we get to know him and discover things about him at the same rate as he does, so he becomes progressively less unreliable, but that means there are surprises that are kept from all of us until the very end (or close enough). As I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, I won’t go into a lot of detail about the plot, but I think most people will get a clear idea about it from the description. I can say, though, that Grace develops and grows throughout the novel and as tends to be the case with first-person narratives, he has been changed by the experience. 
Grace is the main protagonist, but as the novel progresses and his memory returns, we get to meet a few other people, mostly those involved in the Project Hail Mary (Hail Mary is the name of the spaceship), evidently from Grace’s point of view. Due to the scale of the threat on humanity, the whole world has come together, and therefore the experts and the crew involved in the project are a truly international bunch, from Chinese astronauts, to Russian experts with a sense of humour, and even an Australian businessman/conman. I quite liked Stratt, the woman in charge of the whole enterprise, a Dutch polyglot, who is a force to be reckoned with and who proves to be an extremely good judge of character, and although we don’t get to share so much time with the others, they are all interesting and help add more context and texture to the novel. My favourite, though, must be Rocky and the relationship that develops between the two, but I can’t tell you more about that. (I love Rocky! He rocks!) The themes of cooperation and teamwork, selfishness and selflessness, morality and the greater good (how far would you go to save the planet and would individual sacrifice be justified?), cultural prejudices and assumptions, communication and acceptance of alternative and different lifestyles, the nature of life in the universe... are among those that inform much of what happens in the novel, but this is not a heavy handed and didactic text trying to hammer any “deep messages” into the readers’ minds. It is a novel full of adventures (even if many of those are scientific in nature), as optimistic in its outlook as its protagonist, and one that is bound to make most readers smile.
The rhythm of the book flows and ebbs, as things move slowly at times and at others very quickly (we hear a lot about relativity, and this applies to the way time passes for the characters as well). I have mentioned the science speak, and I suspect it might put some people off, but although I’m not a big expert on the topics touched upon in the novel, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the experiments and the scientific basis for them, and even when I couldn’t follow every single detail, that did not hamper my understanding of the story or my enjoyment of the adventures, because the overall plot was always clear enough. The language itself, apart from the science concepts, is pretty casual and the wit and sense of humour of the character make it quite a fun read. (It is also fairly mild, so I can’t imagine a lot of people would find it offensive in the least, but I know this is a subjective thing.) As usual, I advise people thinking about buying the book to check a sample of the writing to see if they think they would enjoy it. 
Here I leave you a few examples from very early in the novel, when the character is still trying to work out who he is:

“Holy moly”? Is that my go-to expression of surprise? I mean, it’s okay, I guess. I would have expected something a little less 1950s. What kind of weirdo am I?

What the fudge is going on?!
Fudge? Seriously? Maybe I have young kids. Or I’m deeply religious.

I like kids. Huh. Just a feeling. But I like them. They’re cool. They’re fun to hang out with.
So I’m a single man in my thirties, who lives alone in a small apartment, I don’t have any kids, but I like kids a lot. I don’t like where this is going...
A teacher! I’m a schoolteacher! I remember it now!
Oh, thank God. I’m a teacher.

I have talked about the overall optimism of the novel, and although I don’t want to reveal the specifics, I can say that I loved the ending. Some readers might have expected something different, but I think most people will appreciate it as much as I did.
So, unless you are extremely put off by science, can’t stand spaceships and/or survival stories, and want to avoid anything that speculates of future disasters, I’d recommend you this novel. It is fun, it is hopeful, it has a sense of humour, it has some delightful and touching moments and some sad and hair-rising ones as well, it is full of scientific titbits, and it is a feel good novel. Oh, and there is Rocky. You must all meet Rocky.
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