First Impression Friday: “Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir

I’ve had this book on my library holds for a long time (before it was even announced), and I recently got to actually read it. And I’m happy to say that, at least two chapters in, I’m not already hating it like I did with Artemis.

From GoodReads:

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.

Project Hail Mary

The book starts off with our hero awakening from a coma, not remembering his own name or knowing where he is, and coming to the realization that he’s somewhere on a spaceship and the only two other humans on the ship have died while they were in their coma. I don’t know if I’m exactly a fan of this trope (amnesiac main character so we learn things as the character learns things), but I guess it’s the best way to try and figure out information without just straight info-dumping, so I guess Weir is on to something here.

By the end of Chapter Two, the hero has come to the conclusion that he’s a school teacher and at some point he witnessed alien life being broadcasted on the TV, but still doesn’t know how he got onto the spaceship or what his name is, and luckily for him, the only way into other parts of the ship is to know his name (sort of like things being locked behind a paywall, I guess).

What I do like is that this book reminds me way more of The Martian than Artemis did. Our main character (who finds out in Chapter Three that his name is Ryland and that he was chosen to be the first person to look at the alien life forms because he once wrote an academic paper that said that water isn’t necessary for life), and that he’s some sort of super-scientist. I can’t be the one to say if the science in this book is real or not, but it sounds real. There’s a lot of numbers – lots of math, lots of sciencey-sounding things – and if you told me it was real, I would absolutely believe you. It’s fun to watch Ryland figure things out and going along with him, which is why I’m giving a pass to the whole “start the book off with an amnesiac” trope that we started off with.

I’ve got literally nothing bad to say about this book so far, except that sometimes the jargon is overwhelming. But I was expecting that. I’m hoping that we get a feel-good, against-all-odds, fuzzy-warm-happies ending like we did with The Martian. I’m expecting something way over-the-top and can’t wait to see what happens!

And as always, keep reading.

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