This post contains spoilers.
For a while now The Martian by Andy Weir has been one of my favourite books of all time (if not, my absolute number one) so I was nervous about going into Project Hail Mary (especially considering I didn’t rate his second book Artemis as high) but I’m relieved to say that I absolutely adored reading Project Hail Mary. To be more exact, I listened to the audiobook while occasionally following along with the physical book and I have to say, that was the best decision I made. While I’m sure the book is incredible enough to read purely using the physical/e-book, the audiobook just adds a little bit of flare.
The fact that musical notes are used as Rocky’s language is interesting enough but to actually hear it in the audiobook was even better. So was the way the sound slowly changed the more that Rylan Grace understood the language and was able to translate those musical notes into English words. The descriptions of their encounters as this translation slowly builds were so interesting. Not only does it showcase the difference in word choice and sentence structure and generally how grammar works between the two languages but it also opens up many opportunities to discuss and explore what is different between their species and their worlds which is something I truly appreciated.
I’m a big sucker for the found family trope and this one is no different. The fact that it’s only between two characters makes it feel cosier and more intimate. It does offer a reprieve from the doom and gloom aspects of the plot but even when things are on that darker side, the found family aspect amplified it because the stakes are suddenly much higher. You don’t just care about one character, you care about two, and you care about their dynamic. There’s now a stronger emotional element involved because of them.
I don’t think I could have predicted the end of Project Hail Mary. It makes me want more but at the same time, I was content. It felt open-ended enough that if this is it then that’s fine but the door is open just enough that a sequel or a spinoff or something else could work. Personally, I like the possibility of being able to think up different scenarios because there are a few different ways it could go. So much is left to us, the readers, to decide what could come next but it doesn’t feel lazy in that aspect. In fact, it makes the ending that much better (and the race to save Rocky plus Grace on his planet was already pretty amazing to begin with).
At first, with the split timeline, I didn’t really feel any particular way about the ‘past’ one and I mostly preferred the ‘present’ timeline but as the story progressed and those two storylines came together, I began to like them both equally. You can really see the importance of both of them the more detail is released. The back-and-forth also works incredibly well as there is a slow release of information that is given to you at the exact time Grace is remembering it, meaning there is a build in tension and it also adds a punch to a lot of reveals.
Speaking of Grace, I found him to be entertaining to read about and easy to invest my time and interest into. My intrigue with him peeked the more we learnt about him and again, that’s partly due to the timelines coming together bit by bit. As mentioned, his dynamic with Rocky was a delight but Rocky is also a fantastic character on his own. The easier it gets for Grace to translate, the more of Rocky’s personality and true nature came through. There are glimpses of it before but it’s wrapped up in the language barrier so for Rocky to become more and more lovable as the book progresses was amazing and was a big step in adding to the intensity that grows as the book comes towards its final conclusion and makes the payoff more satisfying.
Truly, I found myself getting lost in this book. Pretty much from the get-go, I was intrigued to know what was going on and what might come next. Even with detailed science, it never became boring. The writing never got too weighed down by the explanations given and the story continued at a very pleasant pace. The explanations also made it easier to understand at least some of the science so that once again, there is no interruption to the story. In the end, the plot is still incredibly entertaining and it’s an interesting read from start to finish regardless of whether the reader has any kind of scientific knowledge or not.