Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
“Human beings have a remarkable ability to accept the abnormal and make it normal.”
I wasn’t planning on choosing another science fiction novel so quickly after Persephone Station, but after reading Project Hail Mary, I couldn’t wait to share it with you guys. Andy Weir has an amusing way of mixing science, comedy, and fiction into extraordinary stories. He’s one of those authors that I believe 90% of readers will enjoy, even if they don’t usually pick up science fiction. So don’t run away yet.
Project Hail Mary opens with Ryland Grace waking up on a spaceship next to two dead crewmates and no memory of who he is, where he is, or how he ended up there.
From the start, you can tell that Grace is well educated and knows quite a bit about how all of the scientific equipment on the ship works. As his memory returns in spontaneous flashes, we discover that he is headed toward a star in the hopes of finding a solution to the problems caused by something called “astrophage.” This microscopic entity is feeding off of the energy of our sun, leading to catastrophic changes to Earth’s environment.
Grace quickly realizes that he is Earth’s last hope, even though he has no idea how he earned this responsibility.
With no crew, large gaps in his memory, and a seemingly impossible puzzle to solve, it feels as though this mission is doomed. Then another ship appears on the Hail Mary’s monitor. Grace is no longer alone.
I don’t want to rob you of the fun I had making these discoveries alongside our protagonist, so I’ll leave most of that part of the novel for you to discover.
Exploring Grace’s past and his journey to the impossible situation he finds himself in takes us through his time as a teacher and scientist. In true Andy Weir style, he isn’t your typical hero. Grace is goofy and headstrong. He has a love for science and the unknown. We see him completely nerd out about the idea of alien life and the forms it may take. His enthusiasm throughout the novel is truly contagious; I found myself getting giddy over the same science nerd topics as Grace even when I barely understood the basic science behind it. There were moments where his obsession with being the “cool” teacher felt a bit gimmicky and forced, but it never took away from the joy the story gave me.
Don’t let the fact that science is a huge part of Project Hail Mary scare you off.
The problem-solving aspect of the novel keeps things exciting and never feels beyond the average reader’s ability to understand. I’m no science genius, yet I didn’t get lost or have a single moment of boredom while reading this book. No need for a crash course in astrobiology, I promise.
- Simple Syrup, Agave, OR Honey (rim)
- Pop Rocks (garnish)
- 2oz Vodka
- 5oz Soda Water
- 1 Rock Candy Stick
- Brush the rim of your glass with simple syrup, agave, or honey. Put Pop Rocks on a small plate then rotate the glass upside-down on the plate to coat the rim. 2. Fill your glass with ice.
- Pour in 2oz of Vodka and then top with soda water.
- Place a stick of rock candy into the glass and serve!
If you want a non-alcoholic version of this drink you can leave out the vodka. Try different flavors of La Croix! The rock candy will add color to any clear beverage, so if you’re not a vodka soda fan you can try a gin and tonic, mojito, or a white wine spritzer.
Project Hail Mary is a scientific mystery and interstellar adventure.
The characters stole my heart and put Project Hail Mary above The Martian, in my mind. I highly recommend listening to this audiobook if you can. There are aspects that are best experienced through sound rather than printed word, and the narrator really adds something to our understanding of Grace.
I can’t wait to hear what you think of this month’s pick! Head over to @beniciabooktails on Instagram to share your thoughts, stay updated on possible meetups, and be the first to find out about our next Booktails pick.