- Feels like it’s realistic with the inclusion of math, biology, and other sciences
- An interesting twist, though not unexpected given Grace is the protagonist
- Grace is so intelligent and adept that it feels unrealistic
- Encounter at the star system was a nice surprise
Project Hail Mary Review
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir is perhaps one of the best science fiction books in 2021, and fans of his meticulous writing style from The Martian will find that level of detail in this book.
One of the great characteristics about Weir’s writing is his level of detail and the sense of realism that results from that level of detail. Certainly, there are shortcuts like most science fiction—for instance, the rapidity with which the Hail Mary was built and deployed—but the details are right where they should be to create a sense of suspense, panic, and realism.
Where many science fiction writers rely on action to drive the story, Weir instead uses his engaging writing style, filled with science details, to give readers the illusion of reality. This works especially well in thrusting readers right into the moment. The bonus is that fans will learn some applicable science and math. That’s not something many science fiction books accomplish.
But take a step back from the book, and Dr. Grace, the protagonist, will seem just a bit too smart. Some of that intelligence and knowledge can be explained away by his doctorate, his education, and even his occupation as a teacher. But not all of it, especially since middle school science standards don’t generally include the level of physics knowledge demonstrated by Grace, nor does his background in microbiology.
While Grace at one point disparages Sherlock Holmes for his powers of inductive reasoning, Grace’s own seemingly exhaustive breadth and depth of science knowledge is just as unbelievable as Holmes’ abilities. They are, essentially, two sides of the same coin.
However, what makes Grace relatable are his faults. He cries. He has a fragile ego. His sense of self preservation is stronger than his sense of duty. He hides behind his students. While he doesn’t overcome all of these faults, his journey permits him the opportunity to at least overcome one of them.
Project Hail Mary is fantastic in that it goes beyond the solar system, and in true science fiction style, it explores and unravels, to a degree, the mysteries of the universe. That not all of the questions raised in the story are answered is just fine. The important questions—Earth’s fate—are answered, and the remaining questions—the question of panspermia—are left to the reader’s imagination.
Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary is a fantastic work of science fiction that, in my opinion, exceeds the bar and expectations set by The Martian. That’s no easy feat, and that only makes Weir’s next work all the more exciting.
Read reviews of other great science fiction books below.