Books & Literature

Book Review: Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir

THRILLER: A lone astronaut must save the earth from disaster in this incredible new science-based thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Martian.

A humorous narration of an impending apocalypse.
3.5

Have you been enjoying the news reports on the space race of late? Are you game (and rich) enough for a spaceflight? Why not learn about the intricacies of interstellar travel first? In Project Hail Mary, you will discover what changes in gravity, mass, speed, time and distance really mean, in a most entertaining way.

In Project Hail Mary, we hear the story of Ryland Grace. The story starts when Ryland regains consciousness and finds himself aboard a rocket, in the middle of nowhere; technically, he is in the middle of space. We learn of his story as he does, as he slowly regains his memory and comes to terms with his situation.

These flashbacks are inserted throughout the book in a relevant way, so they do not seem like a digression from the main story, which is about Ryland’s mission to save planet Earth and all its inhabitants from dying. The flashbacks also serve to link in physics, maths, and scientific data. For example, he talks about engineering concepts within spacecraft design, the importance of compounds of materials used, alloys, and biology.

Humour serves to break up the text of this science fiction novel. Author Andy Weir is an avid space nerd, and knowledgeable in relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of space travel. He also had a previous career in software engineering people and, as such, the author is well-versed in these technicalities. 

Personally, I found I would zone out with the intricate scientific detail of Weir’s novel, however, the amusing dialogues created from the tactless and direct comments of the characters in the novel always bought me back on track—is this what scientists are really like? Without a doubt, Ryland’s self-talk is the most humorous. His derisive inner thoughts on any given situation balance out the severity of his mission, as well as the darker emotions he reflects upon.

Project Hail Mary is both a mystery and a suspense novel, and it is hard to predict the end. Lamentably, the ending is rather abrupt, particularly as much of the action in the story is slowly and minutely detailed throughout, not just the science. Whether or not this was the author’s intention is yet to be seen. With such an abrupt ending, perhaps it opens the door for a sequel?

Reviewed by Rebecca Wu

Distributed by: Penguin Books
Released: 4 May 2021
RRP: $32.99

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