Just a Theory

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Review: Project Hail Mary

Cover of “Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

2021 Ballantine Books

Project Hail Mary follows the success of Andy Weir’s first novel, The Martian, and delivers the same kind of enjoyment. If a harrowing story of a solitary man in extreme environments using science and his wits to overcome one obstacle after another then this is the book for you. No super powers, no villains, no other people, really — just the a competent scientist overcoming the odds through experimentation, constant iteration, and sheer creativity. Personally I can’t get enough of it. Shoot it right into my veins.

Andy Weir seems to know his strengths and weaknesses, given these two books. If you want read stories of a diverse array of people interacting and growing through compelling character arcs, well, look elsewhere. Project Hail Mary doesn’t feature characters, really, but archetypes. No one really grows in this story: Ryland Grace, our protagonist and narrator, displays a consistent personality from start to finish. The book attempts to show him overcoming a character flaw, but it comes so late and at such variance to how he behaves and speaks to us that it frankly makes no sense.

But never mind, I can read other books for character growth and interaction. I’m here for the compelling plot, super interesting ideas and challenges (a whole new species that lives on the sun and migrates to Venus to breed? Lay it on me). It tickles my engineering and scientist inclinations, and we could use more of that sort of plotting in media.

So hoover it up. Project Hail Mary is a super fun adventure with compelling ideas, creative, competent people overcoming extreme circumstances without magic or hand-waving, and an unexpected friendship between two like-minded nerds in space.

I bet it’ll make a good movie, too.