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.
Part scientific mystery, part dazzling interstellar journey, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian–while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.
I picked up Andy Weir’s debut, The Martian, on a whim back in 2015. At the time, I was only just getting back into reading after falling out of it throughout secondary school (high school to everyone across the pond). I credit it, along with Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, as being the book to reignite my love of reading. Mark Watney is absolutely unforgettable, and Weir’s penchant for creating some of the best Hollywood-like scenes of blockbuster thrills, along with a deep understanding of the sciences involved in the story without talking down to the reader, all mixed together to create a stunner of a book, made even more impressive by the fact that it was a debut.
Artemis was a let-down. That’s where I am leaving my thoughts on that one.
With this in mind, I was apprehensive when I started reading/listening to Project Hail Mary. I was frightened that Weir was going to be a one-hit wonder, a writer with one good book to his name riding off of the success of that novel for years and years to come.
Oh boy, how incredibly wrong I was!
Not only is Project Hail Mary an absolute scorcher of a novel, I would say it is somehow lightyears better than The Martian, which was already an amazing book. Both bigger and yet somehow more intimate than its older sibling, PHM excels on every front it tackles. Looking for a hard sci-fi novel full of theoretical sciences and mathematics to pour over? This is does just that, and makes it comprehensible for us stupid people! What about a high-stakes, end of the world thriller? Yep, this book is that through and through and more! What about following a charismatic main character throughout all of this? Ryland Grace has you covered, plus a whole cast of diverse characters to boot!
On the subject of Ryland Grace, I have heard mention online that some people think he is Mark Watney 2.0. Personally, I don’t have any issue with this, but I would say Ryland is more nuanced. Where Watney was charming, optimistic, and easy to like, Ryland is all these things and also opinionated, often abrasive to those he butts heads with. You really do ride the highest highs with Ryland, through all his breakthroughs and discoveries, his excitement and joy is palpable, but you’ll sink to the lowest depths with him, when everything feels insurmountable or doomed. He is certainly the most fleshed out protagonist that Weir has ever written, and because he has many dimensions to him, I invested myself deeply into his fate and those around him.
I must mention Ray Porter’s performance on the audiobook as it is quite simply exceptional, and his brilliant narration helped lend so much to this novel. His range of vocal talent was amazing, the way he captures all of Ryland’s emotions and tics, and the overall production of the audiobook (which had some added effects) all led to one of my favourite listening experiences I’ve ever had.
If you asked me to pick one fault with this novel, I genuinely would not be able to. I could say that it slows down in the middle, but I would be lying. I meant, it does slow down, but it’s not detrimental to my enjoyment of it. And this one “flaw” genuinely took a lot of brainpower for me to come up with!
To speak any more of this book would be to ruin it. It is chock full of unexpected twists, turns and thrills that I can’t even hint at as it’s totally best going into this one pretty much as blind as possible. I went into this knowing that there is an astronaut stuck in space and I would highly suggest you go into this novel with that amount of knowledge too. This book made me laugh out loud, it made me fist pump in the car whilst sat in traffic (I had looks of concern from other drivers), and it made me cry big fat ugly tears. I cannot recommend this book enough, I genuinely think – to quote gaming news website IGN – it has something for everyone. It’s a blockbuster of a book, a space epic, a race against time, and a novel about cooperation, friendship, and the greatest sacrifice of them all.