My Favourite Sci-fi Book Review: Project Hail Mary

Picture of space
Picture of Space
Adaora Elliott

I have two favourite Sci-fi books, both by the same author, one being The Martian and the other Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Since one is more famous than the other, The Martian having been made into an Oscar-nominated film in 2015, I decided to talk about the more recent and lesser-known of the two.

Project Hail Mary is about a lone scientist who wakes up on a spacecraft, mid-mission to save the world with no memory of how he got there or what exactly he’s supposed to be doing. He slowly realises that he is Earth’s only hope of survival and starts working through the problem. 

Project Hail Mary has many qualities that make it a top-notch book 

Project Hail Mary has many qualities that make it a top-notch book. Andy Weir is known for his love of scientific accuracy, often balancing plot elements with details on physics, botany, chemistry and now biology. This book definitely leans more towards realism rather than literal accuracy but the real-life science and scientific skills displayed in the book are certainly a nice reminder as to why science and academia are so vital. For Weir, the scientists are the heroes and the danger they’re fighting isn’t some terrifying race of aliens hellbent on our destruction, or at least not in the way we would think in a sci-fi setting. These aliens aren’t sapient little green men with blasters and lightsabers, but rather simple organisms, similar to the millions of tiny, microscopic life forms that we have on Earth and which are likely to turn up elsewhere in the infinite universe. When you hear Weir talking about how he came up with these dangers and with the planets that are studied and travelled to in the novel, his passion and dedication to scientific realism are obvious and eye-opening at the same time. 

Amnesia as a trope may seem overplayed but it’s so well done in this book that I don’t think anyone could find fault with it. It’s a super engaging story where every answer leads to a new mystery and every problem solved leads to a whole new set of issues, such as figuring out where he is, how he got there, why he’s there and what he’s going to do about it all. Even sitting in a spaceship isolated from the entire human race, there’s never a dull moment. If you like problem-solving or you enjoyed the problem-solving in The Martian then you’ll definitely enjoy this book as well.

Another saving grace for Project Hail Mary is the awesome characters. The main character Ryland Grace is interesting to contend with from a first-person POV because we get to see him as he is now, scared out of his mind and with no memories and we get to compare him to how he used to be before everything fell apart. It’s great seeing how Grace has grown from before the book to the beginning of the novel and how he continues to change and grow over the course of the story. And he’s not the only great character, there are plenty of interesting, tough and funny characters from Grace’s past who he has challenging and thrilling dynamics with and a particular character that I can’t talk about without spoiling certain plot elements for those who haven’t read it or haven’t heard about this particular twist.

Project Hail Mary also handles its themes expertly, dealing with the concepts of sacrifice, bravery and isolation in equal measure; balancing those heavy concepts with his signature humour that I’ll never get tired of, alongside his entertaining and engaging plot and multi-dimensional and funny characters. There are mentions and instances of death, fire injury, medical content, suicidal thoughts and confinement/isolation so if those are topics you find upsetting perhaps avoid this book, but to everyone else, if you’re a Sci-fi fan this is a highly recommended must read!

Adaora Elliott

Featured image courtesy of Aldebaran S via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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