I’m not sure why I’ve seen so many advanced reviews of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Why? Because on the first page of the Advanced Reader Copy, it says quite clearly not to publish any reviews before publication date. Apparently reviewers didn’t read the first page or don’t care. Not my problem. But I made a point of not publishing this book review until today, which is the official publication date. I received an ARC from NetGalley and Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review.
From the publisher: “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.”
I like science fiction movies and TV shows. But I rarely read the genre. I’m not sure why. Maybe because in books, things can get really technical, and when I read, I want to relax and enjoy the book. Unless of course, I’m reading history or biography, where I want to learn all sorts of new information. So what made me decide to try Project Hail Mary (Amazon) (AbeBooks)? I thoroughly enjoyed Weir’s The Martian (Amazon) (AbeBooks), both the book and the movie (Amazon).
Project Hail Mary reels you in right away. What on earth is this guy doing out in space, all alone and without his memories? As Ryland Grace regains his memories through an endless series of flashbacks, he also has to deal with the present day problem of being on a space ship where his two crewmates are dead and not knowing where he is going or why.
In the beginning of the book, the flashbacks were more interesting to me than the present day. Why? Because the present day is a series of info dumps on various math and science calculations. I found my eyes glazing over and skimming these parts to get to the flashbacks and find out more of Ryland’s story. I’m not saying I’m bad at math or science, I’m actually really adept at basic math calculations and enjoy many aspects of the field of science. I even went through a phase where I wanted to be an astronaut, but there was too much physics involved for my liking. That’s not saying this isn’t a good book. It’s very compelling, but there’s a lot of times when the math or science doesn’t have to be explained like you’re in high school. I felt many times that it was just a way to fatten up the book. I get it. I felt like Weir had to do a ton of research and wanted to show it off for the reader.
The second half of the book, I became much more interested in the present day problems of Ryland rather than the flashbacks. The second half of the book is less about science and math and more about interpersonal relations. The book becomes more about saving the world than surviving in space. The book is very similar to The Martian in that there’s a lone man in space. The main character is also similar to The Martian’s Watney, so at times that made the characterizations seem unoriginal. I liked Watney as a character, so I liked Ryland, too. But as an author, can’t you come up with a different character?
The story is good and the writing flows, making this a very good book. But as stated, the huge amount of scientific explanations bogged down the book a bit. With a bit of editing, this could be a 5-star book for me. As it stands, it’s still 4-star and recommended. Will Hollywood make a movie of this book? Probably. A big action blockbuster, no doubt.
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