Review: “Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir

project hail mary book cover from goodreads, background photo from jongsun lee on unsplash
Original background cover photo credit: Jongsun Lee on Unsplash

What’s two plus two?
Something about the question irritates me. I’m tired. I drift back to sleep.
A few minutes pass, then I hear it again.

Project Hail Mary, Chapter 1 opening

Author: Andy Weir
Publication Date: May 4th 2021
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Find it on: Goodreads


Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission–and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.

Part scientific mystery, part dazzling interstellar journey, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian–while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.

From Goodreads


Book Content Warnings: suicide, global crisis

Andy Weir’s most recent science fiction release, Project Hail Mary, hit shelves early 2021. The book has been widely well-received and currently sits at 4.55 stars on Goodreads – a touch above The Martian‘s 4.40! After reading both The Martian and Project Hail Mary I’d agree with the apparent consensus. While I enjoyed The Martian, there were elements of Project Hail Mary that took it up a notch and won out as my current favorite science fiction read. Filled with loveable characters, fun banter, and fascinating science, this astronaut read should be a strong contender for your reading backlist!

I was completely entertained by the character personalities and their dynamics. We know about main character Ryland Grace from the synopsis. He’s much like The Martian’s Mark Watney character, but with a more interesting backstory. In the book’s opening chapters Ryland wakes up from a coma, confused and startled to find himself stranded on a spaceship with dead crewmates and no memory. As chapters progress in dual timeline he begins to remember how he got into this situation, and recalls the gravity (puns!) of the events leading up to his deployment. Ryland is the main character we follow in the story, in both present and past timelines.

There’s also the similar Martian-esque theme of being stranded in space, but this time there are elements that really amp reader investment. I found the ‘astrophage’ environmental event / investigation very interesting, and there’s an additional character introduced later in the book that I absolutely loved! Readers not only get the tense, sweaty-palms plot point of humanity’s impending doom and Ryland’s questionable situation, but the lovely foil of sarcasm and charm from the characters that makes this book so great.

I’d recommend Project Hail Mary over The Martian as a fun page-turning sci-fi space read! If The Martian was close but didn’t quite hit the bar for you I’d recommend giving this one a try.

Other Reviews (caution, small spoiler in the Washington Post review)


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