I basically ignored everything else in my life to finish this book the same day that I started it because it was that good. Project Hail Mary is everything I loved about The Martian, only better. I borrowed it from the library, but the moment it’s available in paperback I will be buying it to put it on my bookshelf, because it’s just that good. (We don’t talk about Artemis on this blog.)
As mentioned in my First Impression Friday post, Project Hail Mary takes place in space, where an amnesiac wakes up with no memory as to why he’s in space and to the discovery that his crewmates have long-since passed away in their (supposedly medically-induced) comas. While I’m normally not a fan of the whole “main character has amnesia and so we don’t get the whole story until they figure it out for themselves” schtick, I think it works really well with this one. Every so often, Ryland remembers one more thing about his past, and you think you understand exactly why he’s out in space. Of course, not everything is what it appears to be.
The last 10% of the book or so had me nearly chewing on my nails because I couldn’t see how the book could possibly wrap up with that little left to go (especially because the afterword and thank-yous count as part of that 10%!) but the way it ended up going made so much sense.
Small spoiler alert: Ryland discovers alien life and learns how to communicate with it using Microsoft Excel, which I think is amazing. I can’t even learn how to do a pivot table in Excel.
There’s really very little that I can actually say about the content of the book without slapping a gigantic spoiler warning on to this review, so I’ll leave it at this: The science is good (albeit maybe a bit far-fetched for our current times), the plot is relatively free of any fluff, and the action is exciting. There are a few “Oh, come on, just give the guy one small victory!” things that go on (just like in The Martian, when Mark Watney blows up the HAB), but they do serve to heighten the anxiety around Ryland’s possibility of getting back home.
If you can’t tell, I give this book 5/5 stars, for everything. The characterizations are great (even if the alien looks like a gigantic five-legged spider), the science is sound (there’s a long list of scientists that Weir thanks in the back of his book), and while I could probably find some bad things to say about it if I really went back and nit-picked, the fact that I can’t think of anything right off the bat to say is a good thing.
In short, if you like sci-fi and impossible missions, this is exactly the book for you.
And as always, keep reading.