Project Hail Mary — Book Review

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Cross-posted from Goodreads.

When I missed it the first time, I promised myself I would not do it again. I’m talking about an Andy Weir book. Those were the exact emotions that came out of me when I saw The Martian in theater in 2015. True to my word, I just finished Project Hail Mary.

I love science and sci-fi. And I’m absolutely nuts for space and life beyond earth. It’s no surprise then than I’m a big fan of space stuff like Star Wars, Star Trek, and about any Discovery documentary on the subject. Since Project Hail Mary covers this exact topic, my review might be biased.

The book is named after an interstellar mission designed by Earth’s space superpowers to save our planet from an impeding doom. Written in an easy, conversational style, the book goes into physics and biology concepts deeply enough to excite any science buff. The star of the show is the spaceship Hail Mary that makes travel between solar systems possible. The overall design and all major parts of this great ship are beautifully explained. Really, Weir’s skill as a science enthusiast and storyteller shine through!

Without some humor, any technical subject would be boring. The author provides an unlimited supply of it, making the book so fun to read that it’s literally hard to put down. Ryland Grace – the protagonist – frequently monologizes, asking himself a string of innocently curious questions during critical (even idle) moments, much like the stupid questions I would have. His thoughts are often funny and are offered crisply. Grace is a grandmaster of naming new things he encounters. I honestly smiled or outright laughed when he was naming Xenonite, Eridians, and Rocky (Grace’s alien friend).

It’s a bit unsettling at times when the protagonist seems to know about everything on Earth from basic to advanced science stuff. Not just biology – in which he has a doctorate – but also theoretical physics, orbital physics, astrophysics, organic chemistry, and much more. He’s even a good-enough programmer who can spin out an audio-to-text script from scratch in a matter of mins. Then again, Andy Weir is known to create characters who can “science” their way out of epic troubles. So, I’m happy to ignore the larger-than-life-ishness.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I savored every chapter. The unique plot and amazing science explanations were a treat. But I found the ending a bit rushed, especially Grace and Rocky’s last days together. Grace might not have to take life-altering decisions had things been as thoroughly thought-through in the end as they were before.

Above anything else, the book symbolizes friendship. It shows how true friendship transcends borders, even ones between solar systems.

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