Having really enjoyed The Martian and Artemis, when I learned about Project Hail Mary, I was immediately all over the idea of it.
Thanks to the author, as well as Ballantine Books via NetGalley for the review copy!
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.
“What killed it?”
“I penetrated the outer cell membrane with a nanosyringe.”
“You poked it with a stick?”
“No!” I said. “Well. Yes. But it was a scientific poke with a very scientific stick.”
This is the story of Ryland Grace, who is a scientist who wakes up alone on a spaceship bound for Tau Ceti. He has no memory of anything, and his two crewmates did not survive the medically induced coma that they were put in for the long trip, and so it’s up to him to remember why the Earth sent him here so desperately. He does eventually remember… there is a sort of alien algae that is infecting Earth’s sun… and if it continues to multiply, it’s going to dim the sun enough that humans won’t survive it. It’s up to Ryland to figure out why exactly Tau Ceti isn’t infected with the organism, and how.
I went into this one hoping that the ‘nerdy scientist is alone in space doing science to stuff’ wouldn’t come off as too samey. I am happy to say that Ryland Grace and Mark Watney seem quite different, despite somewhat similar circumstances at times. This one goes an entirely different direction than The Martian does, and blasts right off.
Where this one starts with a man alone in space having to do science to save the day, he doesn’t stay alone for long. Enter Rocky. That’s what Ryland calls him, anyway. Rocky is a small, intelligent alien creature that just so happens to be in the exact same place at the same time, and most importantly, for the exact same reason. Rocky’s sun is also infected with the organism and they were sent with a crew to find out the very same thing. Rocky and Ryland team up and do science at things while learning to understand each other, and what makes them both different and the same.
I didn’t love this one quite as much as I loved The Martian, but I did like it more than Artemis. It does have all the sciencey stuff that is fairly easily explained so I can understand it, just like I was expecting. It also gave me a good poke in the feels sometimes, which I did not expect, but here we are. Rocky is a great character, and I think that the relationship between Ryland and Rocky and how their communication evolved from pantomime to legitimate language-sharing was amazing, and kept me reading well past bedtime.
The first and foremost difference I noticed between Ryland Grace and Jazz Bashara or Mark Watney is that he doesn’t swear as much. It was a very noticeable decrease in f-bombs, lol. And as much as I love the f-bomb, it didn’t seem like it was done to make the book seem ‘cleaner’ or anything like that. Ryland is a middle school science teacher and spent his time around 12-year-olds. He just doesn’t swear as much. I can appreciate that, f-bomb lover that I am. Some people just don’t swear as much (I am not one of them).
So, all told, I really liked this one. Sciencey and nerdy and yet feels-jostling and edge-of-my-seat reading from time to time. I would recommend this book to anyone that liked The Martian, or really to anyone that likes space or extra sciencey science fiction. I can’t wait to see what Andy Weir brings to the table next! 5/5 stars!~