Can Andy Weir capture what we loved about The Martian and recreate it for Project Hail Mary? Having read the novel, I think I can safely answer that question. Yes! This novel wrapped up all of my favorite parts of that narrative and bundled it into something new.
Ryland Grace has found himself all alone in the emptiness of space. He wasn't supposed to be alone, and now the fate of humanity rests on his lonely shoulders. He and his crew had a mission, and it must be completed, regardless of the cost or risks.
If Grace can't figure out how to work his ship solo and conduct the research necessary, it is all of humanity who will be paying the price. He's officially their last hope, so no pressure, right? Thankfully, a sudden twist is about to even out Grace's odds.
“I penetrated the outer cell membrane with a nanosyringe."
"You poked it with a stick?"
"No!" I said. "Well. Yes. But it was a scientific poke with a very scientific stick.”
If you're looking for a book that is full of science and humor, then you're about to hit the jackpot. Project Hail Mary is thrilling, hilarious, and literally bursting from all of the scientific information Weir managed to cram inside.
To be clear, all of those scientific elements were thematically appropriate. Much like the botany experiments, Mart Watney was forced to conduct. It all played a role in Ryland Grace's adventure, fleshing out the story and making it feel real. Horrifying real at times, if I'm being honest.
Ryland's story in Project Hail Mary unfolds over the course of the novel, with two different points in time taking the lead. There's the time before his mission, and then (naturally) his time aboard Project Hail Mary. I was actually surprised by how much intrigue the 'before' time brought with it. You'd think all of the suspense would come from his time spent exploring space. You'd be wrong.
“When I’m stressed out, I revert to imperial units. It’s hard to be an American, okay?”
Readers will probably notice that Grace and Watney have quite a lot in common. They're brilliant, clever, funny, and oh right – totally isolated for long periods in their novel. They face isolation and death in the middle of space, thousands of miles from the nearest human.
Naturally, you might think all of these similarities make Project Hail Mary feel a little dry. But that's not the case; I'm thankful to report. The premise of the novel is vastly different, for starters. Secondly, it felt like there's a lot more going on in this novel: more characters, different threats, the works.
One thing I will note: The Martian had some odd pacing, thanks to the way it was originally released (in serial format online). It had something dramatic happening at regular intervals to keep the readers invested. I feel like Project Hail Mary also had this effect, where there is SO MUCH happening. The guy never gets a break! Perhaps the novel could have ended sooner without some of those events. Though I'm not sure it would have led us to the same ending without those moments, so I'll happily take this novel as is.
Overall I really enjoyed Project Hail Mary. I'm already dreaming of how it would look on the big screen, and I hope it follows its older brother on that path. Fingers crossed! Until then, I'm just going to sit here and hope we'll get another book announced within the next year or two.
Thanks to Ballantine Press and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Check out more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks
OUT NOW from the bestselling author of THE MARTIAN
'Weir's finest work to date. . . This is the one book I read last year that I am certain I can recommend to anyone, no matter who, and know they'll love it.' BRANDON SANDERSON
'If you like a lot of science in your science fiction, Andy Weir is the writer for you. . . This one has everything fans of old school SF (like me) love.' GEORGE R.R. MARTIN
'Brilliantly funny and enjoyable. One of the most plausible science fiction books I've ever read' TIM PEAKE, astronaut
A lone astronaut.
An impossible mission.
An ally he never imagined.
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?
An irresistible interstellar adventure as only Andy Weir could imagine it, 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.
'One of the most original, compelling, and fun voyages I've ever taken.' ERNEST CLINE, author of Ready Player One and Ready Player Two
'Undisputedly the best book I've read in a very, very long time. Mark my words: Project Hail Mary is destined to become a classic.' BLAKE CROUCH
'An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship - nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.' KIRKUS REVIEWS
'A suspenseful portrait of human ingenuity and resilience [that] builds to an unexpectedly moving ending. A winner.' PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
'Weir returns with gusto . . . his writing flows naturally, and his characters and dialogue crackle with energy. With this novel, he takes his place as a genuine star in the mainstream SF world.' BOOKLIST