Hello and welcome to another review in Vesna’s section of The Swordsmith reviews. Today’s book of choice is Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, a book I was really excited to read and couldn’t wait to get it. And it was really worth waiting for.
A lone astronaut.
An impossible mission.
An ally he never imagined.
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission – and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company. His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery-and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.
Or does he?
I have to say I’m always excited to get my hands on an Andy Weir novel. The Martian was amazing, but then I was a little disappointed in Artemis (it wasn’t a bad book, I just expected something different). Let’s just say, after reading a blurb for Project Hail Mary, my expectations went through the roof. As it turns out, all of my expectations have been met and I absolutely loved the book.
There was something really clever about the way Weir wrote that book. There’s no linear storytelling and the whole story starts somewhere in the middle, with Ryland Grace waking up in a spaceship with two dead bodies next to him, without knowing what is happening, where he is or even who he is. The story is then separated in two different narratives: one keeping up with his discoveries in space, trying to find out what happened, and one that’s going back to the past of all the events before launch, slowly connecting the two stories together and letting you piece the puzzles together and get the whole picture of Ryland’s story. I have to say, I was a bit lost in the first chapter or two into the book, but I quickly got the hang of different perspectives, and it just went fluently from there on.
Coming back to Ryland, he’s a really well written character. The whole book is written from his perspective and you get to share all his struggles, mental breakdowns and joy. It was wonderful to experience his story as he discovers himself while trying to find out what happened to him. But you get to know the most about his character when he discovers he’s not alone in space and he might be the first one to make first contact with a different species. And that part was an absolute highlight of the book. I could go on and on about it, but I’m very much afraid it would spoil the book for any future reader.
Another thing that made this book such an amazing read is Weir’s writing. He manages to keep a simple narrative even with complicated subjects. There is a heavy focus on physics throughout the whole book, but it wasn’t overwhelming. It’s written in an enjoyable way that doesn’t disturb the reading flow with too much information. And even though I never liked physics, it turned out to be quite a fun part and simply explained. Also, Weir managed to fill the book with a bit of humour and a bit of sarcasm also which lightened the whole story and kept me hooked to the end of the book. I think that this book is the highlight of Weir’s writing career. He managed to include all the aspects people loved the most about The Martian, and yet he managed to keep the book easy-going and light. It’s an amazing story about a man, who didn’t want to be an astronaut, yet he went to space and he found himself saving humanity and found meaning in his life doing so.