Today we debut a new series of book reviews and we can only start off with one author, Andy Weir. Weir released his newest book beginning of May and continues to wow us with his highly researched science fiction.
“A lone Astronaut.” “An impossible mission.” “…to save the world.” These are the generic phrases usually used to promote the next big Hollywood flick that blew its budget on special effects and forgot to leave any for the writing. They usually oversell the final product but every now and again, they’re truly spot on. When these phrases are used in the description for Andy Weir’s new novel “Project Hail Mary,” the hype can’t be oversold enough.
Fans of Weir’s earlier works (The Martian and Artemis) will be no strangers to his writing style. Project Hail Mary is told from the point of view of the protagonist Ryland Grace. In the opening sentences, we see a familiar character model: witty, funny, sarcastic, and smart as a whip. Weir also adds a new element to his writing this time around: flashbacks. They’re used to tell the story in two parts: where we are now and how we got to this point, but in Project Hail Mary, Weir takes it one step further.
Right from the beginning, we learn that our protagonist can’t remember a thing. It’s a great way to get instantly hooked! Weir takes it one step further and makes the flashbacks integral to the story. As Ryland progresses on his journey, his flashbacks coincide with whatever problems he is currently facing and they really help to flesh out what happened leading up to the first page.
This whole novel is familiar territory to fans of The Martian. To paraphrase Mark Watney from that novel, Ryland has to “science the shit out of this!” With every new challenge comes a new technical way of problem-solving. Each of the issues covers a wide array of fields like chemistry, biology, cosmology, physics, and orbital mechanics, just to name a few. And they’re all worked out in great detail. If numbers scare you, don’t worry. All of the math is worked out for you and it includes the context to explain why it matters.
Without giving away spoilers, it’s worth noting that the audiobook version (used for this review) is really helpful when it comes to the dialogue of our protagonist’s friend. The narration also has well-done accents for different characters and great voice acting to convey emotion rather than sounding like ordinary words being read off of the page. If that wasn’t there, then there are some moments that would feel like you’re being read to from a boring high school science textbook. Kudos definitely need to go out to Ray Porter, who narrated the version reviewed here.
Project Hail Mary is everything we’ve come to love and expect from Andy Weir. It’s great storytelling that uses real science in a way that makes you want to crack open those old textbooks again. By tugging at our heartstrings and tickling both sides of the brain, Project Hail Mary is, quite possibly, Andy Weir’s best work to date! The Space Explored team highly recommends this novel.