Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Project Hail Mary is Andy Weir’s third and possibly best novel. In this book we awake with our main character uncertain where he is. He doesn’t even know his name. We soon discover he was in a coma, he’s in a hospital like room, and he is the only one of three people still alive.
From there, the story expands and we discover more and more about a desperate effort to send a spacecraft into interstellar space to save humanity. Once he remembers his name, Dr. Ryland Grace understands his mission and seeks to solve a problem involving the dramatic decrease of energy output from the sun.
The spaceship, Hail Mary, is cool and the technology powering it is doubly cool. All the science is interesting without being overly annoying. I glazed over nearly all of the math because it made no sense to me. The background of how the project came about is interesting but also farfetched to the point of being a distraction. (But I don’t want to spoil too much.) The story flashes back often to pre-mission launch.
My irritation came with the main character, Grace. He is genius-level smart but a bit of a jerk. This is especially clear with interactions with the other main character Rocky. (Without Rocky this novel would not get 5 stars; but again I don’t want to give away too much.) He eventually redeems himself, but at times his rudeness and impatience seem completely out of place.
Another mild annoyance was a relationship between two side characters. It added absolutely nothing to the story, felt incredibly awkward, and I’m surprised it made it past the editors. It wasn’t graphic or anything; merely pointless.
The only other thing missing, and I’m not sure if I like that it was or not, was more info about Earth. The planet is facing impending doom within the next generation, yet numerous super powers come together with almost no friction. I feel like humanity would struggle a lot more, even if the globe was facing catastrophe. It feels almost too easy, bordering on Deus ex machina. But adding more of this could have detracted from the story, so I’m unsure.
Overall, Project Hail Mary is Weir’s best book, slightly edging out The Martian. Also, check out Artemis, which takes place on Earth’s Moon.