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.
Thank you to Del Rey for the review copy! I can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Gah I want to scream about how much I loved this book but its SO hard to talk about without giving away spoilers! For those coming to Project Hail Mary expecting the similar wit and emotional roller coaster we got in The Martian, you wont be disappointed. But, whereas The Martian could read as almost non-fiction, Project Hail Mary tends towards the more fantastical side of science fiction, and while the plot twist sent me for a bit of a loop, I quickly became invested in the characters and story line and think I may have possibly enjoyed this more than The Martian.
The Earth is dying, tiny life forms called Astrophage are slowly sucking the energy from the Sun which will cause an extinction event. Ryland Grace is a high school science teacher, who left the scientific community after one of his papers caused a slight uproar, so when Eva Stratt shows up and informs him she needs his expertise he’s partly wary and partly excited. He soon realises he has no choice in the matter. Stratt has been given unlimited access by nearly every country in the world to find a solution to Astrophage, and Grace has no idea how pivotal to her plan he is.
The story is told in a mix of present and past tense. In the present tense we find Grace on the Hail Mary in the Tau Ceti system, looking to find out why their equivalent of the Sun hasn’t been affected by the Astrophage. When he initially wakes up from his coma, he learns that he crew mates are dead and he is the lone survivor on a spaceship he has no recollection of. Through flashbacks we learn all about how he came to be here, and about Project Hail Mary, the last ditch plan to save Earth. As his memories slowly start returning he understands the gravity of the task he has before him, but he also remembers that this is a one way trip. Grace is determined to do what he can to save Earth and his ‘kids.’
Grace is a kind of lovable rogue style character. Weir’s writing style make’s him someone you can’t help but empathise with. When he realises his trip is one way, he doesn’t hesitate before trying to find a solution. He has all the wit and charm we come to expect from Weir’s MC’s, but he also isn’t afraid of his emotions. There is happy crying and sad crying, and most of the time I was doing it right there alongside him. The more his memories come back, the more he learns about himself (not all of it good) but he is determined to save humanity, no matter the cost. There are other characters that I want to mention but I can’t because spoilers! But suffice to say, Project Hail Mary has a fantastic cast of side characters, all who have a significant part to play in the story. My favourite, without a doubt, would be Rocky. The parts of the story he was in were by far my favourites, and his character adds to the emotional and the humorous tone of the novel.
I struggled to get into the story at first, we spend quite a bit of time with Grace trying to figure out who he is, why he’s there, where there is. And whilst that was sometimes humorous, the story really picked up when Grace finds his ‘unexpected ally.’ I just wish I could talk more about this without giving away major spoilers because it was by far my favourite part of the book. As soon as this ally appeared I couldn’t put the book down, and stayed up waaay past my bedtime. Weir’s writing style makes the story really flow, and once it get’s going there is no good part to put it down. Exciting, emotional and hilarious things happen in every chapter and it makes it an easy read to fly though.
As with The Martian, Project Hail Mary is quite heavy on the science side. Grace goes into a lot of detail when running his experiments, or simply thinking things through, and while most of it should have gone over my head (and some of it definitely did) Weir manages to make it so even those of us with little to no science knowledge will still get the gist of what is happening. It does get a little dumpy in parts, but I have a love of Space so enjoyed trying to get my head around all the science going on. To keep the story flowing, Weir gives us plenty of plot twits, as well as some eureka moments, and some that had me white knuckled glued to the page. These helped make sure we didn’t get too bogged down in the science, but also made sure we stay invested in the story and the characters outcome.
Overall I loved this book, it was funny, fast paced and took me on a wild ride emotion wise. Weir has a unique talent of making something that should be extremely sombre bloody hilarious and at times I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud. Fans of The Martian will definitely not be let down and I can’t wait to get my hands on anything else Weir writes.