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  • Jeff Pollak

Book Review: Andy Weir's "Project Hail Mary" (Sci-Fi)

As the author of a book with a plot often called “unique” by reviewers, I really enjoy reading other stories meriting that distinction. Project Hail Mary certainly does.

While this is a hard-science sci-fi book – a sub-genre I rarely read despite being somewhat of a science geek – this one kept me in thrall because of the plot. The elevator pitch might be something along these lines: “A high school teacher and an alien spider-like creature cooperate to save their respective worlds from destruction caused by a microscopic energy-eater.” Can’t say I’ve ever come across a book like that.

Have you? That’s a rhetorical question, I know your answer is “no.”

Ryland Grace, the main character, is a well-fleshed out individual. Readers can easily sympathize with him and relate to the circumstances he finds himself in. “Rocky” the alien Ryland encounters in space, is utterly unique and quite believable. They make a terrific team, each with characteristics that complement each other despite vast differences in culture, language, physiology, senses and skills. The idea that two individuals with so little in common can overcome those differences and work together to save their respective worlds is at once heartwarming and contrary to Sci-fi’s combat tropes. This book is unlike any character study story I’ve read.

Despite enjoying the plot and all the characters – including supporting ones – I’ve given this book a 4-star rating. The story’s written in first person, with Ryland Grace narrating directly to the reader. To my liking, there are far too many sentences start with “I” as in “I did this,” or “I thought that.” More of an effort should have been made to minimize the number of sentences that start with pronouns. Also, the lack of an explanation as to how this first-person story reaches Earth from another solar system is a plot flaw. This could have easily been addressed in the last chapter. Last, a portion of one chapter involving a court hearing was so unrealistic (I’m a retired trial lawyer) that I temporarily lost my suspension of disbelief while reading it.

One last thing: This is the first Andy Weir book I’ve read. I did see The Martian movie but I haven’t read the book. Now I will read it, Artemis and anything else he writes.

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