Here’s how much I liked Project Hail Mary.
I got it from my library. I read the whole thing in one sitting. Then I flipped it over to the beginning and read it again. Then I went out and bought my own copy, for keepsies.
So yeah, I thought it was okay.
My first read-through was pretty focused on the plot. I am always compelled by books that are about character questions and worldbuilding lore, so the central mystery being “why doesn’t this guy remember getting on this spaceship” was a very intriguing one to me–and the answer provided was thoroughly satisfying and asked some great ethical questions I will avoid expounding on here so as not to spoil the read.
But I knew I’d missed a lot of the science that makes Weir’s work great in rushing through that first read, so I wanted to read it again.
This was a great decision. The premise of this book is exciting and original, as is typical of Weir’s work. He’s also crafted another interesting and unusual protagonist. We’re so used to seeing dark and gritty hero types in speculative fiction that this cheerful, sarcastic, kinda weird science teacher feels like a breath of fresh air. Ryland Grace is an incredibly believable character, and even more believable as the hero he eventually becomes for that.
The prose is delightful. Readable and funny, while also making the advanced scientific concepts present extremely understandable. Making Grace a science teacher was helpful for that. (My one critique is that I wanted more linguistics, and I thought the language-learning aspects were skimmed over slightly. How did they introduce advanced concepts like “grace” or “bad” with no shared cultural reference points? I want to know!!!) Otherwise, the science felt thoroughly real and I may have actually learned some stuff.
Plotting is another real strength. Crises don’t just happen, they’re the result of character errors, and they get resolved through character strengths. The interwoven present-flashback structure worked really well for this, too.
Also, this book has one of the most beautiful epilogues I’ve ever read. The conclusion made me cry.
Can’t recommend it highly enough. It may be even better than The Martian, which is one of my all-time favorites. Its ethical questions are a little more complex, its secondary characters better-developed, and its stakes even higher. This is life-or-death for our protagonist, but also the whole world. But it also has Weir’s signature humor and above all, positivity. He shows the ugly parts of humanity, but also the faith, the perserverence, and the very best of us.
Maybe I’ll read it again before I bring the library their copy back…
I loved this! It might be my favorite book from last year.
definitely a new favorite for me too!