I understand that a lot of people are hesitant to pick up Project Hail Mary after what was (in their opinion) a disappointing sophomore novel from Weir – seriously, I think there were about five of us who really enjoyed Artemis. However, I do think it you loved The Martian and have been waiting for Weir to come out with something along the same lines, Project Hail Mary could be for you.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot of Project Hail Mary because I think the reader should experience the mystery along with the main character. Sure, the synopsis tells you his name, but for most of the book Ryland Grace is struggling to remember any details about how he ended up on a spaceship. I loved the mystery element of this one, although the tone of the mystery does shift a little in the second half of the book. Ryland is starting to remember more and more, so his amnesia isn’t the sole focus of the book.
Like The Martian, Project Hail Mary incorporates flashes back to Earth so the main character’s space bound journey is a little broken up. I like this technique a lot, and it never felt jarring. I was always keen to return to both perspectives because I wanted to know what was happening all over the place.
Also similarly to The Martian, this book is very sciencey. Ryland talks you through his mathematics and physics processes. If you’re not into science, you can just skim over those bits and trust that he’s working things out properly, but I personally really enjoying the explanations and following along with him.
I do feel like, thanks to the complaints about Artemis (shakes fist), Weir was leaning a little too heavily on The Martian here. Ryland sounded a lot like Watney at times, and a lot of the beats were the same. I didn’t mind that too much, but I think some readers might, especially if they end up reading the books close together.
There’s a whole section of this book dedicated to language which I know a lot of my friends will enjoy. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but that was a lot of fun. If you’ve read the book then you probably know what I’m talking about!
You may have seen reviews that say that the highlight of Project Hail Mary is Rocky, and I have to agree. Rocky <3
As for the ending, I enjoyed it a lot. It was a lot less emotional than The Martian but I think I’m a bit desensitised after the Mark Watney situation, so I didn’t sob while reading this one. I felt a lot for the main character, though, and for Rocky of course, so I still had some feels at the end.