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Book Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (5/5)

20 Mar

I’ve liked and disliked Weir’s books. I was nervous about this one but decided to give it a go. When my Reading Buddy and I decided to pick up again after our kids got a little older, it seemed like a fun option for us to pick up and explore. We wanted something pretty light that we would move through quickly. Well, we hit that nail on the head.

517bkqp8lrl._sx322_bo1204203200_Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Other books by Weir reviewed on this blog:

The Martian (and movie review)
Artemis (and Book Club Reflection)

Summary from Amazon:

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, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery—and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.

Or does he?

I’m glad I’d forgotten this summary by the time I started the book! Because Ryland has amnesia, you don’t even know he’s Ryland at the start. Granted, by chapter three or four, I was caught up and the rest was still a surprise. There are a lot of things in this book that you wouldn’t expect and I’m sure I’ll spoil something for those who plan to read this. Since there’s a movie in development, I’m hoping this one becomes a popular choice for folks who want to read the book first!

I thought Ryland was very believable. I loved how we learned about his backstory and then ultimately learned why it was revealed in the way it was. His motivations were very real and his I could empathize with his distress over his situation. I think most people would feel the same way! I was reminded a lot of what I loved in The Martian without what I disliked in Artemis so this was a great relief to me. Weir writes great first person narration.

Though there was little competition, Ryland ended up being my favorite character. He was easy to empathize with and his humor kept the book moving along well. I thought he was really resourceful and while at times his knowledge seemed to be too convenient, it made sense with the educational background we were presented with.

While I’ve never been in a situation like Ryland before, I could empathize with him because his reactions and emotions feel very real to me. I understood his fear, sadness, and motivations. He felt like a very real person to me.


Andy Weir. Image via The Daily Californian

This next paragraph has spoilers so skip ahead if you want to avoid that. My favorite part of the book was when Ryland and Rocky were first getting to know each other. I have a language degree so the bits about language development and finding mutual words for things was fascinating to me. The idea that both species have a verbal spoken language is a bit convenient but it made for a much more entertaining book. The speech pattern development through the book was really fun as well. At the beginning, there are a lot of disruptions as common words are developed and learned. Then there’s a stilted but fluent speech pattern. Finally, in the final chapter, there’s a level of fluency that we haven’t seen before after a long period of practice. It was incredible to see that detail and I really appreciated it.

I can’t really think of a part of this book I disliked. It was really well paced and a delight to read throughout. I had trouble putting it down and found myself reading until I was almost asleep. It’s been a while since I read something this engaging.

What would you do to save the world? That’s a big question for Ryland. He’s gone to great lengths to e where he is and be in a position to be the savior of humanity. It’s a big sacrifice and also a big honor. Nothing about it is pretty, but it’s so necessary. I hope we never find Earth in a situation like the one in the book. I hope we never have to make decisions that Stratt and Ryland are faced with. But if we do, I hope we have folks equally intelligent and bold to do what needs to be done.

Writer’s Takeaway: The flashback element of this book was my favorite. I loved how we learned about the time before Ryland woke up on the Hail Mary slowly. I think it was fun to learn it with him. There were parts that surprised me and parts that didn’t and I loved being surprised along with Ryland in real time. It was a technique I can’t remember reading before and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This was an incredible read and one I was glad I got to enjoy with my Reading Buddy. A full Five out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts:
“Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir | NardiViews
“Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir | The Saturday Reader
Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir/**** | Umney’s Alley
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir | Luce [is Reading]
Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir (some plot spoilers) | A Reader of Else