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Project Hail Mary (Hardcover, 2021, Ballantine Books) 4 stars

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission--and if he fails, humanity …

Review of 'Project Hail Mary' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

In Project Hail Mary, the sun is going out. Huge bummer. We also don't know why, and it's happening to many stars in the local area of the galaxy. But we figure out why! And we also find one system where the star ISN'T going out even though it should. So we gotta throw together a ship and crew as quickly as possible to investigate, find a solution, and get it back to Earth in time to save the sun. Enter Ryland Grace, one of the crew members of this ship. He doesn't know any of that though, because he woke up on the space ship billions of miles from home without his memory. As his memory returns, he has to work to figure out who he is, what he's doing, and how to save his home. After a shocking discovery in this alien solar system, he has new exciting opportunities to maybe make it back home too.

This was a lot of fun. Very much Andy Weir, down to the movie-like scenes and the quippy dialogue and the weird mix of isolation and hope you get from the story. I wasn't expecting this to be as hard sci-fi as it was, but I really enjoyed those parts of it. I'm not at all familiar with physics, chemistry, or biology, but I found its integration to be seamless and well-done. I found the story to be paced really well, jumping between the present, fixing things, solving problems, staying alive, running tests, and the past as memories return to our main character. We get to learn about the events leading up to this hail mary of a mission and Grace's involvement in it. I don't feel like this dragged at any point, and was a very quick read for being almost 500 pages.

There were aspects I think could have been improved upon. Personal taste, but I really don't enjoy heavy-handed quippy "marvel" dialogue, and that was pretty much every conversation in the entire book. I didn't find it funny or executed well. I'd rather have more authenticity, but I'd also rather have unique characters. Everyone important had the same personality, and everyone unimportant had some token personality quirk that never changed. I also found it hard to suspend my disbelief in some areas. Some things were just far too convenient or far too simple. I feel like, if you're going to commit to hard sci-fi book, then you need to limit the convenient coincidences that help your characters. But ultimately these things didn't detract much from my enjoyment. While it wasn't anything super groundbreaking, it was enjoyable.

If you loved The Martian, I think you'll like this a lot. Also I think if you like Blake Crouch, this would work for you, though it is a bit more lighthearted than something like Recursion or Dark Matter. Also if you like books that are paced like movies this will be perfect. If you like you science fiction to be deeply serious, like anything by Peter Watts or William Gibson, this isn't for you. It's also like.. the opposite of philosophical. Topical? So if you like commentary on the human condition, this doesn't have any of that. Just a lot of the human doing stuff. But I do guarantee you'll have a hard time putting it down!