A review by morganish
Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir

adventurous emotional hopeful tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


In case you've been living under a rock, Project Hail Mary is the latest scifi story by Andy Weir. It features his trademark action-survival plots, where the protagonist puzzles out solutions using hard-science-y, jargon-heavy deductive reasoning. 

I haven't actually read his other books, but having seen The Martian film and then having read this, it's about what I expected the book version of his stories to be. Which isn't a bad thing! It's rare that I read something so inline with the expectations set by marketing, at least in terms of tone, plot tension, and delivery. The storytelling is fast-paced and tension remains high for a large part of the book. Andy Weir is like brain candy for people with especially technical brains (or people who think they have especially technical brains). There are a lot of references and viewpoints about the role of science and the nature of life that weave in here and there, but I can't confidently say there's a core overarching theme that the book is laying out. Treat this book like a good time, don't expect much more, and you'll probably be satisfied. 

In terms of the plot, lots of people are comparing it to The Martian, saying that it's the same plot, essentially. I'd say the main story problem and the solution methods are the same (survive/solve logistical problems using hard-science deduction and knowledge), but the plot is very different. And while I can't say much without giving away plot points, I'd say this one has a surprisingly emotional element that I don't remember from The Martian. 

I'm not personally fond of the writing style, but it's straightforward and similar to a lot of pop fiction that becomes really mainstream. A weird and kinda laughable reliance on the sanitized, "acceptable" versions of swear word replacements stood out a bit. Also, there are elements of the American MC working with an international team, but while the technical details are largely in-depth, the depictions of other characters or the intricacies of communicating across cultures doesn't get the same treatment. This probably makes it much more consumable for mainstream American audiences, but was a little disappointing as someone who geeks out over stories that lean into the differences and complexities of other cultures, both real and fantastical. 

The only other thing I'd note is that there are some times and ways the MC have of speaking that are... very cis straight white guy, for lack of a better explanation. So while there aren't a lot of moments that are clear missteps, subtle things like the way he thinks about success and failure, about sacrifice and heroism, about the likelihood of cooperation versus brute force, were noticeable at least to me. It's not the most problematic thing, but something I'm always sensitive to, so thought I'd mention it in case that's a big turn off for anyone else, or just something a reader would rather be prepared for going in. 

Overall, I got a lot more emotionally invested in it than I expected, even if there were some times I wished it was a little bit shorter or the technical explanations were condensed. I'd recommend this for anyone who likes mainstream, plot-heavy, fast-paced fiction and isn't overwhelmingly daunted by science jargon or long-form analysis (think about it like the scifi version of reading a Sherlock Holmes book, in a way). However if your brain absolutely shuts down at jargon, this might be something to take a pass on. Or if you like plot-heavy stuff that gets to the point quickly, you might want to read the first few pages before buying, to see if the opening grips you. 

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