Book Review - Project Hail Mary
Initially wary due to the juvenile title, Andy Weir’s “Project Hail Mary” exceeded all of my expectations—and they were high. Having devoured the scientific prominence of “The Martian” and thoroughly enjoyed the humanity and humor of “Artemis”, this third effort successfully unites the best aspects of Weir’s writing.
When a problem is found with Earth’s sun, the abilities of the entire planet are brought to bear on discovering a cause and finding a solution. When the cause looks to be a form of life, the global effort brings in Ryland Grace, a school teacher cast out of academia for his outrageous theories on non-carbon life. But with his theories gaining new traction, he’s presented a leadership role on the project designed to solve the problem at its source—the Tau Ceti star system.
Told via two timelines—the present in which Ryland Grace has amnesia, and the past as he regains his memories—the book begins as a disaster story, morphs into a sole-survivor tale, and winds up a buddy adventure. Throughout the book, two aspects are unwaveringly excellent: the science and the characters.
The new molecular life form, how it interacts with the world, and how humanity uses those interactions to their advantage are incredibly well thought out and reasonably presented. The new life leads to advances in propulsion that allow humanity to search for a solution to the problem with the sun. But like done so well in “The Martian,” using technology one way often has unforeseen consequences, and these issues provide the conflict and tension the hero must overcome.
When Ryland befriends Rocky, an engineer also trying to solve the problem caused by the molecular life form, the best parts of humanity are represented as communication barriers are encountered and overcome. Frustration and humor occur in equal measure as misunderstandings and breakthroughs lead to truly endearing situations. The reader cannot help but root for Ryland and Rocky as they search for a solution.
Published in 2021, “Project Hail Mary” is an incredibly fun read. The science kept my mind spinning, and the tension kept my heart racing as I turned page after page, fighting against sleep to learn how everything worked out. My Highest Recommendation. Score: 87/100.